Dada Masilo’s Giselle

Birmingham Hippodrome


The first South African dance company to tour the UK with Dance Consortium has arrived at the Birmingham Hippodrome with Dada Masilo’s fierce 21st Century reinterpretation of Giselle.

This Giselle is far from the traditional classic we are all familiar with and instead fuses ballet, contemporary and African Tswana dance together and is less about forgiveness but a commitment to female empowerment.

Only a few weeks ago on this very stage Birmingham Royal Ballet performed the traditional version with ghostly white veils and a completely forgiving outcome for Albrecht but Dada has smashed down any traditional barriers and here we see the Wilis in fiery red costumes to appear drenched in blood where revenge is a violent death.

The first scenes of this 70-minute condensed production begins in a rural South African village steeped in tradition and inequality when Giselle, Dada Masilo, is seduced by Albrecht, Kyle Rossouw, who wins her heart despite Hilarion, Tshepo Zasekhaya, also fighting for Giselle’s love.

Giselle’s mother, Sinazo Bokolo, is unhappy with Giselle’s choice in men and thrashes Giselle to shame her to make the right choice then hits the bottle when her pleas are ignored. When Albrecht breaks Giselle’s heart and pushes her away, her whole world collapses. As Giselle takes her last breath on earth, Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, Llewellyn Mnguni, summons all her power as a Sangoma (natural healer) to fight the betrayal with a terrifying brutal attack in a powerful retaliation.

As Giselle blows dust over Albrecht’s broken body then steps over him, Giselle is finally free.

A powerful performance emanating strength together with a haunting score by composer Philip Miller make for female choreographer Dada Masilo’s Giselle one to watch. Masilo’s next work will be her take on The Rite of Spring.

Free tickets are available for Dada Masilo in Conversation by Dance Hub Birmingham on Friday 18th October 5.15pm-6.45pm -  register at Eventbrite

Emma Trimble


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