Varna gold medalist Mathilde Froustey lights up the stage in Yellowstone Ballet Company’s production of the dramatic classic ballet, Giselle, June 14-15 in Bozeman. Froustey, a principal dancer for the San Francisco Ballet and a sujet (soloist) for Paris Opera Ballet, performs the title role of Giselle with dancers from Yellowstone Ballet Company and Raison D’etre Dance. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Friday at Willson Auditorium.
“The role of Giselle is one of the most prized roles in ballet,” says Yellowstone Ballet Company Artistic Director Kathleen Rakela. “To perform Giselle, a ballerina must have impeccable technique, outstanding grace, and great dramatic skills.”
Giselle, which debuted in 1841, tells the story of a young village girl who falls for the charms of a duplicitous nobleman disguised as a peasant. When Giselle discovers Albrecht’s true rank (and, worse, the existence of his aristocratic fiancée, Bathilde), she goes mad with grief and dies.
She then joins the ranks of the Wilis (the spirits of other jilted women), who take their revenge on faithless men by forcing them to dance to their deaths in the middle of the night. Giselle is delegated to finish off the penitent Albrecht, but manages to keep him alive until dawn, when the sun’s rays force the Wilis to slink back to the darkness of their graves.
“Giselle is to a ballerina what portraying Hamlet is to an actor. The role puts huge demands on the ballerina, both as a dancer and as an actor,” says Rakela. “It’s a rare treat to have such a classic performed on the Willson Auditorium stage in Bozeman, Montana, with a dancer of the caliber of Mathilde Froustey.”
Besides winning gold at the Varna International Ballet Competition, the oldest and the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world, Froustey has received numerous awards and international recognition including: an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for her performances of Giselle with Tiit Helimets during the San Francisco Ballet 2015 Repertory Season; a Danza & Danza’s best foreign dancer award in 2013; and the Ballet2000 dance prize in 2007.
She has also danced Giselle with Kremlin Ballet at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, in September 2016. Her resume includes performances at Paris Ballet in Hanoi, Vietnam, with Compañía Nacional de Danz in Madrid, at the International Ballet Gala XX in Dortmund, Germany, and in Paris Opera Ballet’s Don Quixote in Tokyo.
“She lights up the stage,” says Helgi Tomasson, artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet. “What I love about her dancing is her joy. She feels music, and as an audience member, you connect with her.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “She has brought a quicksilver technique, a pliant torso, witty musicality, pinpoint articulation and sheer élan to everything she has danced … Froustey looks delicate, but hers is the strength of spun steel.”
Parsifal Pittendorfer of Texas Ballet Theatre, dances the nobleman Albrecht; Maya Moody, with Raison D’etre Dance Project, dances the Queen of the Wilis; and Erin Levy and Michelle Kolodin of Raison D’etre Dance Project are the Wilis Lieutenants, with a corps de ballet from the Project, Yellowstone Ballet Company, and the School of Classical Ballet, Billings.
Tickets are $25, $40, $55, and $75, and available at Eckroth Music in Bozeman, online at www.yellowstoneballet.info, and at the door for an additional $2.