Review: Akram Khan’s Giselle

Review: Akram Khan’s Giselle

Written by Maggie Morris and Carla Oliver Marti
Artwork for the Giselle production.

Akram Kahns take on the timeless love story Giselle offers a modern dark twist to a classic in Southampton.

Carlotta Grisi was the first ballerina to play Giselle within the Ballet du Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique in 1841. Since then, there have been countless performances and whereas the majority of these adaptations stayed within the boundaries of the classical, Khan’s production brings a contemporary and gloomier vision to the stage.

Giselle is a romantic story told in two acts. The curtains open with the Outcasts – the factory workers. An unexpected and corrupt visit from the Landlords inflames the tragedy of the star-crossed lovers and their hopeless destiny. In the second act, darkness grows in a desolate but beautiful world. Towards the end, the audience experience the magical encounter of life and death.

Performers practising for Giselle
Performers practising for Giselle

Akram Khan’s rebirth of the classic ballet Giselle is a haunting yet breathless masterpiece. Driven by an intense musical performance conducted by Gavin Sutherland that not only electrifies you, but in tender moments pulls on your heart-strings. The lighting director Mark Henderson creates an atmosphere that reflects the turmoil of the characters. This well-constructed entwinement between Sutherland and Henderson creates a powerful work of art.

Visual and costume designer Tim Yip portrays exceptional garments to astonish one’s eyes. The dancers bring a unique performance stylistically as they dissolve together as one organism and Alina Cojocaru the principal dancer Giselle creates an elegant and delicate portrayal. Her movements seem weightless and feather-like, conveying a sense of purity and fragility.


In our opinion, the show is a must a see and a heart-stopping spectacle, one which is unforgettable.

The ballet runs up until Saturday 29th of October at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. Tickets and more information can be found on the Mayflower website here.