Giselle Ballet

Rachel Hanson
Giselle

Of the classics, the Giselle ballet is one of the most loved stories. While some ballets are enjoyed by all ages of ballet audiences, Giselle is more of a ballet for adults. Of course, young audience members appreciate the dancing in Giselle, but the story is a complicated one for younger audience members. The costumes, music, and of course all the dancing, will captivate audiences of all ages.

History of the Giselle Ballet

The Giselle ballet was first performed in Paris in 1841. In 1842, the ballet was presented in England and in Russia, and in Italy it debuted in 1843. The ballet came to America in 1846, and has since become an intrinsic piece of the history of ballet.

The music for the ballet was written by Adolphe Adam, and the choreography in modern day versions of the production is a mix of the original choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, as well as the vast majority of the modern choreography stemming from Marius Petipa's version of the ballet.

The ballet was created for the Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi, whose portrayal of Giselle served as a benchmark for all future ballerinas who took on the role. The role is a very coveted one among ballerinas because it is the epitome of ballet prowess in the sense that the role requires a ballerina who is exceptionally talented technically, but also has exceptional expressive dramatic skills. Grisi was able to fulfill both requirements, making the ballet a success from the outset. Still today it is a favorite among ballet companies and ballet dancers.

Giselle Ballet Story

The story of Giselle, as mentioned above, has its deep elements. Compared to The Nutcracker or to Peter and the Wolf, the Giselle ballet is a dark tale.

Giselle is a young peasant girl who lives with her mother in a small village. One day, a stranger comes to their village and flirts with Giselle. This stranger, though dressed as a peasant, is actually of the upper classes, but, wanting to enjoy a last adventure before his engagement to an upper-class woman becomes a marriage, he has disguised himself to fit in among the peasants.

Although Giselle is warned by her mother and others to not fall for Albrecht, she cannot resist his charms. She falls deeply in love with him, and when she finds out that he is an engaged man from the upper classes of society, she dies of shock. The second act of the play is when it turns supernatural.

In the graveyard where Giselle is buried, there is a group of female spirits called 'Wilis'; all of these females are the ghosts of women jaded by men during their lifetimes. Supposing that Giselle is going to join them because of her story, the Wilis attack Albrecht when he comes to visit Giselle. The Giselle ballet ends with her protecting him from the Wilis, ultimately refusing to join them, and being left in peace in her grave.

The story of the Giselle Ballet is an interesting one and certainly has its high points. Like Swan Lake, Giselle has some darker moments and a story that will not be understood by all audience members. Before going to see the ballet, it's certainly a good idea to familiarize yourself with the characters and storyline of the Giselle ballet.


Giselle is a fixture in the world of ballet. Famous productions include those of the Royal Ballet and of American Ballet Theatre. Certainly a beautiful ballet, Giselle has everything ballet audiences look for: beauty, drama, and, of course: DANCE!

Giselle Ballet