The American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, July 8.
Dancers generally don’t show fatigue. No doubt the fact that they’re in peak physical condition has something to do with that, but even so, it just wouldn’t do to have anyone gasping for breath between pirouettes or pausing after a series of leaps to put his head between his legs. So part of what makes the ballet Giselle so much fun is that it makes such a show of exhaustion. Characters literally dance themselves to death—but not before they pant and heave and collapse a few times, almost as if their bodies tire like those of normal human beings—and I have to admit, I kind of love it.
My sicko tendencies aside, however, Giselle is a wonderfully lush, twistedly tragic ballet, a paragon of the romantic tradition. If the score were by Tchaikovsky, it would be perfect. (The music, from a hodgepodge of sources, is fine, but it can’t compare to Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty.)