At the Ballet


This Mother's Day weekend, Ballet Austin brings audiences a tale of love, heartbreak and madness. Giselle is among ballet's great classics, with a lead role so challenging it has been known to make and break careers. Théophile Gautier–influential French poet, author, critic and champion of the Romantic ballet–conceived Giselle in honor of ballerina Carlotta Grisi. Love, betrayal, heartbreak and forgiveness, Giselle brings a romantic close to the season.

Choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music by Adolphe Adam
Featuring the Austin Symphony Orchestra

The Long Center
8pm | May 10Audio description by VSA Texas available for this show, 11
3pm | May 12
Mother's Day Weekend

Giselle is a wonderful Mother's Day idea - your Mother will be delighted by the beauty and stunning technicality of this great classic ballet. Performing on Mother's Day weekend is a Ballet Austin tradition and one that makes for an excellent Mother's Day gift. Order your tickets for our Mother's Day performance of Giselle now!

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Giselle is considered one of the great Romantic era ballets — a tale of love, heartbreak, and madness. The lead role is so technically and artistically challenging that it is often said to be a role that can make or break a career.
Choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music by Adolphe Adam
The Long Center
May 10 – 12

Program Notes

Main Characters
Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis
Hilarion, Giselle’s suitor
Wilfred, Albrecht’s servant
Giselle’s friends
Berthe, Giselle’s mother
Bathilde, Albrecht’s fiancée
The Duke, Bathilde’s father
Royals, the Duke’s court
Moyna, a Wili
Zulma, a Wili


The scene opens in a valley in Germany. It was customary to celebrate the vintage festival by gathering at a different cottage in the village each day to drink the new wine. On this occasion, the cottage where the peasant girl Giselle lives is to be the scene of the celebration. Albrecht, Duke of Silesia, who, disguised as a peasant and using a hut opposite her cottage to hide his sword and cape, pays court to the unsuspecting Giselle. She sees Albrecht, and they immediately fall in love. Hilarion, a gamekeeper, who is also in love with Giselle, suspects the identity of his rival and soon finds out that Albrecht is the Duke of Silesia.
The villagers, returning with the last gathering of the grapes, join in a dance with Giselle and Albrecht, but Giselle’s mother, Berthe, interrupts the dance for she fears that Giselle's passion for dancing may be the death of her delicate daughter. Giselle is taken into the cottage reluctantly as Albrecht and his friend, Wilfred, depart. The Duke of Courland and his hunting party stop at Giselle's cottage to taste the new wine. Within this party is Bathilde, who is engaged to Albrecht. The celebrations continue, and Giselle is crowned Queen of the Vine. Hilarion, now fully aware of Albrecht's duplicity, seizes this opportunity to reveal to Giselle the true situation: Albrecht is the Duke of Silesia and engaged to Princess Bathilde. The shock is too great for Giselle, who loses her reason and dies.
In a forest near a lake where Giselle is buried, we find the Wilis, spirits of young girls who died in of heartbreak like Giselle. Attired in their bridal dresses, the Wilis dance in the moonlight and revenge themselves by luring young men who enter their part of the forest to dance until they fall dead of exhaustion. First Hilarion, then Albrecht visit the grave of Giselle, repenting for their part in the tragic death of the peasant girl. Hilarion is caught by the Wilis and is hurled to his death. Giselle's deep love for her Albrecht saves him from the relentless Queen of the Wilis and her attendants. With the coming of the dawn, the Wilis' power is ended, and they disappear from sight, leaving Albrecht to bid a last farewell to Giselle.


World Premiere: June 28, 1841, at the Paris Opera in Paris, France
Last performed in Austin: October 2002 by Ballet Austin at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin, TX
Giselle was conceived by the influential French poet, author, critic, and possibly the greatest champion of the Romantic ballet, Théophile Gautier. Giselle was created to honor the ballerina Carlotta Grisi, whom Gautier not only admired for her dancing, but with whom he was in love. Gautier turned to Jules-Henri Vernoy, Marquis de Saint-Georges, to perfect the theatrical rendition of his tale. In three days, Gautier and Saint-Georges finished the libretto that has remained unchanged, often referred to as the perfect Romantic ballet.
Gautier wanted Carlotta Grisi for the title role. Gautier showed the libretto to the ballet teacher Jules Perrot, who was also Grisi's common law husband, who agreed it would be an ideal vehicle for Grisi. Perrot in turn took it to the composer Adolphe Adam, who gained approval for the libretto fromthe director of the Paris Opéra, Léon Pillet, According to Adam's memoirs, he completed the sketches in eight days and the full score for Giselle in just three weeks. By contrast, a generous two months was given to rehearse the choreography.
Jean Coralli, senior ballet master of the Paris Opéra, was put in charge of the production, although Perrot was allowed to arrange Grisi's parts. Perrot received no credit on either programs or posters for his contributions, probably for financial reasons. As a listed collaborator, Perrot would have been entitled to a share of the royalties.
Giselle or Les Wilis was first performed at the Paris Opéra on Monday June 28, 1841. At the premiere, the principal roles were danced by Carlotta Grisi as Giselle, Lucien Petipa (Marius' brother) as Albrecht, and the twenty year old Adèle Dumilâtre as Myrtha. The peasant pas de deux was inserted at the last minute for Nathalie Fitzjames, a soloist in the favor of an influential ballet patron. Mlle. Fitzjames danced with Auguste Mabille. The ballet was a success on all levels, gaining critical and public acclaim for the choreography, music, designs, and the dancing. This made Grisi's Parisian debut in a full-length ballet a particular success.
(excerpted from


At its premiere, the quality of the music for Giselle was the most convincing argument to date in favor of original composition for ballets rather than arrangements of pre-existing melodies. Up until then, the most popular ballets used a pastiche of popular songs, rearranged and orchestrated into danceable stew.
Another prominent feature of the music for Giselle is the use of "leitmotiv" (a theme that recurs in the music to refer to a specific character or emotion) as a narrative device. Adam was not the first to use leitmotiv in a ballet; however, Adam not only  adjusted the key of a thematic melody to affect the mood, he also changed their tempi and rhythms to highlight the dramatic intent of the story.
Music for the "Peasant pas de deux" was composed by Frédéric Burgmüller and added for the first performance to please a wealthy patron whose mistress was Nathalie Fitzjames, the dancer who took the part of the peasant girl. It is used to this day, although the placement in Act I varies, as does the number of dancers performing it.
(excerpted from



Cast & Credits


Cast in order of appearance


ALBRECHT - Frank Shott (May 10 & 12) / Paul Michael Bloodgood (May 11)

HILARION - Christopher Swaim

WILFRED - Benjamin Wetzel

GISELLE - Aara Krumpe (May 10 & 12)  / Ashley Lynn Gilfix (May 11)

Brittany Strickland
Elise Pekarek
Chelsea Marie Renner
Oren Porterfield
Anne Marie Melendez
Jaime Lynn Witts

Natasha Carl
Grace Morton
Melissa Roetker
Nicole Voris
Mandy Wenk
Cassia Wilson
Ian J. Bethany
James Fuller
Edward Carr
Michael Burfield
Orlando Julius Canova
Kody Jauron

BERTHE - Allisyn Paino

Michelle Thompson (May 10 & 12) / Beth Terwilleger (May 11)
Jordan Moser (May 10 & 12) / Preston Andrew Patterson (May 11)

BATHILDE - Beth Terwilleger (May 10 & 12) / Michelle Thompson (May 11)

THE DUKE - William Abbott

Rosie Grady Sayvetz
Alanna Endahl
Lauren Heebner
Emily McLaughlin
Nat Wilson
Jacob Sebastian
Collin Eckhoff


MYRTHA - Rebecca Johnson

MOYNA - Anne Marie Melendez

ZULMA - Jaime Lynn Witts

Brittany Strickland
Elise Pekarek
Chelsea Marie Renner
Oren Porterfield
Michelle Thompson
Beth Terwilleger
Natasha Carl
Grace Morton
Melissa Roetker
Nicole Voris
Mandy Wenk
Cassia Wilson
Rosie Grady Sayvetz
Emily McLaughlin


Choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music by Adolphe Charles Adam
Staged by Stephen Mills and Michelle Martin
Costumes by David Heuvel (Courtesy of Louisville Ballet)
Scenery by Peter Cazalet (Courtesy of Louisville Ballet)
Based on a poem by Theophile Gautier and Vernoy de St. Georges

Artist Profiles

Jean Coralli, Choreographer
Jean Coralli Peracini was born in Paris on January 15, 1779. He studied at the Opéra ballet school and made his stage debut as a dancer at the Opéra in August 1802, at age 23. Before this debut, he had already experimented with choreography in Vienna in 1800.
From 1815 to 1825, he produced a number of ballets in Milan, London, and Marseilles. In 1826, he became the ballet master of the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris, where he choreographed additional works.
It was in 1831 that Coralli became ballet master of the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale (Opéra), where he received a wide range of responses to his choreography, including works such asLa Tempête (1834), Le Diable Boiteux (1836), La Tarentule (1839), Giselle (1841), and La Peri (1843). Arthur Saint-Léon described Coralli's work as "... essentially French, that is to say, refined, delicate, and poetic."
Jean Coralli retired from the Opéra in 1848 and died in Paris on May 1, 1854, at age 75.
Jules Perrot, Choreographer
Born August 18, 1810, in Lyon, France, he began training at 9 but achieved early recognition by performing a parody of a famous entertainer of the day. At 10, he went to Paris, where he obtained engagements in the vaudeville houses, performing his parodies. Eventually Perrot decided to put his talents to work in classical ballet.
He studied with Auguste Vestris and combined the best of Vestris' teaching of classical dance technique with his own knowledge of theatricality. He danced at the Paris Opéra in La Musette de Portico in 1830. He partnered often with Marie Taglioni, who eventually severed the partnership, as she feared Perrot would outshine her.
Perrot left the Opéra in 1835 to tour European dance centers such as London, Milan, Vienna, and Naples, where he met and noticed the talent of Carlotta Grisi. He coached her and presented her to the world as the next great ballerina in an 1836 performance in London, with himself as her partner. In that same year, Perrot began to experiment with the art of choreography.
Following the success of his contributions to the choreography of Giselle, Perrot went on to choreograph Alma ou la Fille du Feu (1842) for Fanny Cerrito, which was hailed as a major choreographic success. In 1945 he created his famous masterpiece Pas de Quatre,  successfully negotiating the intricacies of persuading the four leading ballerinas of the day to appear on stage together.
In St. Petersburg, Perrot was engaged first as a dancer, and then in 1851 as ballet master where he remained until 1858. He retired after a disappointing season in Milan in 1864. In later years he gave classes at the Paris Opéra, where as a teacher he was immortalized by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas in paintings such as The Dance Class (1874).Perrot died in Paramé, France on August 29, 1892.
(excerpted from and
Adolphe Charles Adam, Composer
In ballet, Adam is absolute master and he knew no rivals. It is in ballet that he revealed his great poetic feeling…and he brought to this type of music all the flexibility of writing and all the diversity of style which he had shown us elsewhere."
-- Critic Pier Angelo Fiorentino's memorial tribute to Adam in Le Moniteur.
Adam was born in Paris on July 24, 1803. As a child, he preferred to improvise music of his own rather than study music seriously.
Adam began musical studies at boarding school and entered the Conservatoire in 1821, studying organ and harmonium under Benoist and later Boïeldieu. By age 20, Adam was writing songs for Parisian vaudeville houses and was playing in the orchestra at the Gymnase, where he would later become chorus master.
Adam's first solo ballet composition was Faust in 1833 for choreographer André Deshayes at the King's Theatre in London. His first work for the Paris Opera was the music for the ballet La Fille du Danube for Taglioni in 1836. He traveled to St. Petersburg to present the same work, a new ballet, L'écumeur de mer, and an opera for the court of Tsar Nicholas I.
Adam's next important work was the music for the ballet Giselle, for which he is probably best known today. It premiered at the Paris Opéra on June 28, 1841.
Adolphe Adam died on May 3, 1856, in Paris having written 40 operas, 14 ballets, and numerous light operas and vaudevilles.
(excerpted from
Stephen Mills, Staging
Stephen Mills has created more than 40 works for companies in the United States and abroad, with noted collaborators including the band Asleep at the Wheel, musician Shawn Colvin, and flamenco artist José Greco II. From his inaugural season as Artistic Director in 2000, Mills attracted attention from around the United States with his world-premiere production of Hamlet, hailed in Dance Magazine as, “…sleek and sophisticated.” Under Mills’ direction, Ballet Austin has toured nationally and internationally to venues including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C,. and The Joyce Theater in New York.
Mills’ critically acclaimed contemporary ballets include One/The Body’s Grace, which won the Steinberg Award at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition in Montreal. In 2005, Mills led 13 organizations through a community-wide human rights collaboration that culminated in the world premiere work Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In 2006, Mills’ work on Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project was awarded the Austin Anti-Defamation League's Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award.
Michelle Martin, Staging
Michelle Martin danced with the Alberta Ballet Company for four years before joining the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre (IBT) in 1982. While with IBT and, subsequently, the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut, she performed leading and soloist roles in Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and The Moor's Pavane as well as creating roles in many original works. Martin's teaching credits include guest-teaching engagements at schools and universities in Canada, South Carolina, Michigan, and throughout Indiana and Texas.
She was on faculty at Butler University in Indianapolis for five years. Martin began her tenure with Ballet Austin in 1991 as a dancer with the Company, and in 1992 she was appointed Ballet Mistress and Curriculum Director of the Academy. In 1999, she founded Ballet Austin II, Ballet Austin's apprentice program, providing professional development for the 10-member second company and designing educational programming for presentation in schools. Martin has served on the Texas Commission on the Arts advisory panel for Arts Education and is a recipient of the Austin Under Forty award for contributions in the area of the Arts and Entertainment. Martin was appointed Associate Artistic Director of Ballet Austin in 2000.
David Heuvel, Costume Designer
David Heuvel is presently Costume Production Director for Ballet West. He has been associated with Ballet West since 1979. Prior to his work in the United States, he was Chief Costumer for Ballet at P.A.C.T. in South Africa. Apart from Heuvel’s work with Ballet West, he has designed and built costumes for ballet companies both nationally and internationally, including Ballet Du Nord (France), Alberta Ballet, Ballet Met, Singapore Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Ballet Hawaii, Nashville Ballet, and Ballet Memphis.
(excerpted from
Peter Cazalet, Scenic Designer
Peter Cazalet was born in Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia, and, while studying ballet part time, qualifiedas an architect from the University of Cape Town. In 1958, Peter went to London and, after doing television work, he joined London Festival Ballet and also danced for Western Ballet Theatre and Ballet Rambert. Due to injury, he turned to stage design. In 1971, he returned to South Africa to design for CAPAB Ballet and in 1980 was appointed Head of Design for CAPAB. Peter’s commissions have included operas, ballets, and plays for South African and international theatres. He designed the costumes for Dawn Weller’s La Bayadere during 1995/96.

Director's Notes



Family Dance Workshop – Giselle
Sun Apr 28, 2013  |  2:30 – 4pm
Ballet Austin’s AustinVentures StudioTheater

See excerpts from Ballet Austin’s Giselle, and create your own choreography with the help of Ballet Austin dancers. Recommended for children ages 3 to 12 years old and their family members.
Learn more or sign up.
Studio Spotlight – Giselle
Thurs May 2, 2013
12 – 1pm or 6 – 7pm
Ballet Austin’s AustinVentures StudioTheater

Watch a professional dance company in action! Up-close, personal, and informal, Studio Spotlight gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at choreography and elements from the upcoming production while it is still in the works. This is the perfect lunchtime break or happy hour activity! Free admission for those who RSVP. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Learn more or sign up.

Footlights – Giselle
One hour prior to all performances May 10 – 12
The Long Center

Enhance your experience at the ballet with a pre-show lecture and Q&A for all ages. See the last-minute preparations unfold in the background as you relax and gain a unique understanding of the performance you are about to see! Learn more.

The Long Center
8pm | May 10Audio description by VSA Texas available for this show, 11
3pm | May 12
Mother's Day Weekend

Sponsored by:
James C. Armstrong & Larry Connelly
Paula & Bob Boldt
Dr. & Mrs. Ernest Butler
Dr. Harvey Evans & Gloria Evans
Georgia & Don Henrich
Anne & Cord Shiflet
Cathy & Dwight Thompson
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