James Connell attended Ballet BC’s Giselle April 25th at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Gay men cannot fall for women. This is a well known fact, just like all wives are good housekeepers and husbands love football more than opera. Therefore you can imagine the surprise when Albrecht (Connor Gnam), the hero of BC Ballet’s Giselle, turned his attention away from his powerful male lover and towards that awkward portrayal of femininity Giselle (Alexis Fletcher). The opening scene got it right, exploring the raw worship of masculinity as our hero embraces his male lover Hilarion (Gilbert Small), as it ought to be between a man and another man. It did not last long however, for from out of the corps de ballet comes Giselle with all of her disregard for order and her almost pathetically sympathetic nature, who turns the head of our hero and in doing so throws our order into conflict.
Ballet BC’s artistic director, Emily Molnar, has yet to learn that it is wrong for one person to sexualize both the feminine and the masculine, they must choose between the two. The appalling androgyny of Linda Chow’s costuming brought this to the forefront, with the first act portraying the entire corps de ballet in masculine suits with masks over their faces, and the second act with all sexes wearing the same flowing tutus and Myrtha, the queen of the Willis in pants!
The choreography by José Navas often undermines the assigned gender of the dancer, along with the mixed sex duets featuring broad-shouldered women and elegant men which keeps the audience guessing who was whom. This entire act is a disrespectful display rejecting natural dichotomies, and the boundaries and rules society has set up to protect us from confusion and keep us safe from the undefinable.
Rightly, Giselle is thrown into madness by the torment of her lover’s rejection and it is thanks only to the kind encouragement from her superiors that she does the right thing and takes her own life. Clear definitions of Gay and Straight ensure tragedies like this do not happen. Albrecht was wrong to even consider loving a woman. If he can so easily break the rules what is to stop love sick women everywhere from yearning for something they cannot have? It’s better to stay within our roles and protect women from themselves.
Act 2 takes us into the mind of our hero, accentuated by the exquisitely dynamic watercolour set by Lino showing the neurological storm Giselle had inflicted on poor Albrecht. In the end Giselle is forgiven by Albrecht for her indiscretions and her memory is allowed to leave his mind. Albrecht is now free to live within the confines of his sexuality and order is restored. The moral of the story being that gay men are allowed to be gay and they should be thankful for that. Besides, after all of the tolerance our society bestows upon us, it is unforgivable to stray from our defined roles and pursue an emotion for the sake of humanity. Ballet BC has thankfully upheld the traditions of our modern culture though this brilliant piece of art.