Dance Consortium is delighted to present the Soweto-born dancer and award-winning, internationally-renowned choreographer Dada Masilo’s Giselle at The Lowry on 22 & 23 October during the very first UK tour of the production.
Masilo’s Giselle follows the international success of her acclaimed reinterpretations of Carmen, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.
The tour, including The Lowry performances, is an exciting addition to Dance Consortium’s 2019 performance schedule and continues the organisation’s unparalleled commitment to bringing the best international contemporary dance to audiences across the UK. Dada Masilo’s Giselle marks Dance Consortium’s 45th tour since 2000.
Masilo dances in the title role and leads her company of twelve exceptional dancers with theatrical mastery, accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful score from South African composer, Philip Miller, which fuses electronic sampling from the original orchestrations by Adolphe Adam, layered with African voice and percussion. Masilo was born and raised in the Johannesburg township of Soweto. Trained in classical ballet and contemporary dance she fuses these techniques with African dance steps to create her signature high-speed style. As a choreographer, her fine instinct for staging and her deep love for the classics sees her tackle the established ballet canon with remarkable boldness and daring artistry.
Giselle cements Masilo’s growing reputation as a powerful and dynamic choreographic voice on the international stage.
This is Giselle but not as you know it! Opening in a lively South African village, Masilo’s Giselle tells the story of a trusting peasant girl who is thrust into a world of betrayal and shame when her lover rejects her. Spurned by her family and killed by heartbreak, Giselle returns from the grave as a supernatural being bent on revenge.
Mixing contemporary dance, traditional Tswana movement and the vocabulary of classical ballet, Masilo recontextualises the themes of grief and revenge inherent in the original and asserts a timely #metoo twist to the traditional Giselle narrative. Barefoot and grounded in her body, Masilo’s protagonist is the antithesis of the weak, frail and vulnerable Giselle with whom we are familiar. Myrtha is recast as a male Sangoma, or traditional South African healer, and the Willis – both male and female – are a vicious mob ready to exact their revenge.
Dada Masilo, who won the prestigious Prince Claus ‘Next Generation’ Award in 2018, says of her Giselle: “I wanted to make a ballet that was not pretty …I wanted to get away from that and bring it back home to South Africa and give it that edge, put it into that context. The world that we’re living in right now, there’s so much disruption, so much chaos happening, I think the Giselle that I made fits very well into what is happening round the world. My approach is to show that contemporary African dance and ballet can co-exist by finding an innovative way of fusing the two. I believe that we need to collapse barriers that exist between them because they are restrictions, and as dancers we don’t need restrictions.”
Dada Masilo’s Giselle received its world premiere at DansensHus, Oslo in 2017, co-commissioned by The Joyce Theatre’s Stephen & Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work, the Hopkins Centre, Dartmouth College, Lyon Dance Biennale 2018, and Sadler’s Wells. Additional commissioning grant from La Batie-Festival in Geneva, with additional funding from the Samro Foundation.