Giselle – Friedman (assumed) – Female Variation (Vaganova / Kirov) Peasant Pas de Deux


Female Variation from Giselle Peasant Pas de Deux  from the 1932 production by Vaganova

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Giselle is a renowned two-act ballet that mixes aspects of romance, tragedy, and the supernatural. The ballet is set in a charming countryside where the eponymous character, Giselle, falls in love with a nobleman named Albrecht. The first act introduces us to a cheerful and endearing rural town, with Giselle and Albrecht’s budding love at its heart. When Giselle realises that Albrecht is already engaged to another woman, her sadness and subsequent insanity become the impetus for a sequence of catastrophic events. She finally dies as a result of a shattered heart.

The second act is set in a hauntingly beautiful woodland, where Giselle’s soul lives with the Wilis, a gang of ghostly, malevolent female spirits commanded by Queen Myrtha. The Wilis, who perished before their wedding days and are destined to dance men to death, represent the supernatural world’s strength. Giselle’s eternal love for Albrecht is important to the story, as she shields him from the spiteful Wilis even as they attempt to seize him. The contrast between the ethereal, ghostly motions of the Wilis and the emotional, impassioned dances of the village scenes is well captured in the ballet.


According to Edgecombe’s findings, spelled out in some detail in “A ragbag of ballet music oddments” [brolga, December 2005], the female variation of the Peasant Pas de Deux danced in the current Kirov Ballet production of GISELLE, is a solo inserted by Vaganova for her 1932 staging of the ballet. The variation comes from Ivanov’s 1890 one-act ballet CUPID’S PRANK. This work was first danced by Varvara Nikitina, and was ‘inhereted’ by Vaganova when she danced Nikitina’s character, the numph Oreada, when CUPID’S PRANK was given in 1897. The music for the ballet and thus, one assumes for the variation, is that of Aleksandr Friedman.

More information can be found here.

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