ONCE again the Metamorphosis Dance Company is doing something different with classical ballet. This season, the company adds a twist to one of the great romantic French ballets, Giselle, inspired by the 19th century poet, Heinrich Heine.
The ballet tells the story of love and betrayal. It is set in a contemporary Caribbean setting with the historical backdrop at the turn of the 20th century and the era of the cocoa panyol.
On a cocoa estate in Trinidad in the early 1900s, Giselle, a young seamstress, is led to believe that the man she loves, Albert, is a simple farmer. But this is far from the truth; he is in fact heir to the Courland Cocoa Estate and is engaged to another woman. When Giselle finally learns this truth she plummets into a fit of madness from her broken heart and kills herself. After her premature death, Giselle protects her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil female spirits, who are controlled by a soucouyant and aided by the douens of the forest.
The ballet is designed by Simone Phillips and recreates the era of the cocoa panyol. The choreography is by Frederic Jahn, international ballet artist, ballet master and custodian of Rudolf Nureyev's work. Jahn started his career with the New Zealand Ballet, then three years later joined the Australian Ballet.
He later became a soloist with the National ballet of the Netherlands and then went on to be principal dancer with the Scottish National and the English National.
He acquired an extensive repertoire of both classical and contemporary ballets, worked with renowned choreographers and created many roles, including the role of Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" by Rudolf Nureyev, in which he enjoyed great personal success. He retired from the stage in 1984. He is married to Patricia Ruanne, who assisted him in this production of Giselle in its early stages. Ruanne was a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet Company and the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet)
Performances of Giselle are at Queen's Hall start tonight and run until Sunday, with tonight's and Sunday's shows at 6.30 p.m. and the Friday and Saturday shows at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are available at both the Queen's Hall box office and the Caribbean School of Dancing office 2a Dere Street, Port of Spain.