MIF’s Giselle at The Palace Theatre, preview: Dancing to a different tune

Verity Williams

Manchester International Festival has asked acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan to reimagine classical ballet Giselle.

It may be a break year for the biennial Manchester International Festival, but we’re not totally bereft of the world class, premiere productions that made the festival’s name. 175 years since its first performance in Paris, the classical romantic ballet Giselle is being reimagined and co-produced by MIF, Sadler’s Wells and the English National Ballet. The production has already been heralded as a must-see by the Times and Independent – and Manchester’s Palace Theatre hosts the global premiere before Giselle tours to Bristol, Southampton and London.

According to new Artistic Director of MIF John McGrath, who took over from Alex Poots in September 2015, Giselle is “an example of the sort of collaboration we can expect to find at The Factory”, the ambitious new arts centre and future home of MIF, set to open in Manchester in 2019.

“An example of the sort of collaboration we can expect to find at The Factory”

Giselle is being choreographed by Akram Khan, who, according to the ENB’s artistic director (and ballet legend) Tamara Rojo, was the only choreographer for the task. Khan previously collaborated with the ENB on the award-winning Dust, choreographed part of Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony and won an Olivier Award for his solo production DESH in 2012.

The set and costumes will be designed by Tim Yip, an Academy Award winner for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and lighting design comes courtesy of Mark Henderson, who also lights up the Royal Opera House and National Theatre. The score will be adapted by Ben Frost and performed live by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.

In only five festivals since its 2007 debut, MIF has established a unique role in the global creative scene, commissioning entirely new work from internationally renowned artists, musicians and theatre-makers. Giselle has been commissioned as a trailblazer event – but it should reflect what we can expect in year round programming The Factory opens.

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