Image: Sarah Kundi and Jeffrey Cirio in Akram Khan's Giselle © Laurent Liotardo

Since its premiere in 2016, Akram Khan’s re-imagining of Giselle has moved audiences worldwide (live, in cinemas, on DVD/Blu-ray and on TV). Here is a little of what they shared about the production.

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Akram Khan's Giselle @englishnationalballet. A performance to remember. I haven't had chills up my spine and actually cried at the ballet for the longest time. Some ballets slam you in the face with their sheer force of impact, others creep deep inside your gut, and stay with you. This was the latter. Here is something really special; not only was I drawn into this world, but I felt great hope, because I could see a future for ballet which had a resonance and relevance with the world we live in. Yes the great ballet fairytales have human themes at their crux, but it's hard to give story and characters depth and substance when there's the expectations of tradition to meet, from production to choreography. It's easier to relate to real human characters inhabiting a real human world, than a fairytale kingdom. This is one of the reasons I love the traditional Giselle. It's a real story of a real boy and girl in history. Khan transfers the essence of this tale to a modern day garment factory, where Giselle is one of the refugee workers. When Albrecht's aristocratic comrades emerge in vulgar over-refinery, it hit me hard. "Look at us, what we are doing to each other, how cruel we have become, blinded by greed". Khan's Giselle is a story of our time, the injustice that enacts itself daily, but hidden behind a wall created by impenetrable superpowers like the mass media, to ensure our lives are nice on the other side. So too it was a dystopian telling of what may be if we continue to allow our actions to be corrupted by this greed. Alina Cojocaru's beautifully told Giselle is the personification of the germ of innocent longing we all possess – a want for love, peace, and with bright hope despite the tumult of dark. It wasn't perfect: the story telling and character development in Act 1 is not fully fleshed out enough for us to truly feel for Giselle when she dies, or to feel contempt for Albrecht in his betrayal, or a morsel of sympathy for him in his despair. But the original Giselle ballet was remade many times before it settled into the one that has been protected and retold to this day. Khan's Giselle deserves this same rethinking, and protection…

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