In Reviews

For Galentine’s Day, I was kindly invited along to watch the Varna International Ballet & Orchestra’s performance of ‘Giselle’ at Theatre Royal Brighton with my close female friend on Monday 13th February.

They also performed ‘Swan Lake’ on Valentine’s Day and will perform ‘The Nutcracker’ today – TWICE! Whoa, they sure are busy ballerinas. Although I have seen both Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in the past (at the Theatre Royal Brighton, actually!) I wasn’t familiar with ‘Giselle’. But when I found out that it had ghost virgin brides who rise from their graves and make men dance until they die, it just felt right for an evening celebrating female friendship!

Despite living most of my life in Brighton, I never get tired of attending performances at the Theatre Royal. Especially as there’s variety of styles of shows. I took my kids to see ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (that my Aunt and Cousin performed in - they’re actors don’t you know?), I properly screamed my way through ‘Ghost Stories,’ laughed and gasped in equal measure at the ‘Circus of Horrors’ and cried because my child was sick on the night I was going to see Mister Joe Black so I had to give my tickets away. Thinking about it now still makes me sad.

The building is slightly wonky, the chairs are really close together, and the downstairs bar area is quite narrow….I’m basically saying that it is beautiful, historical, charming, elegant and exactly the style of venue that is in keeping with the sophistication of the ballet.

Going to the ballet always makes me feel just a little bit fancy. Like, for one night only, I can pretend to be very classy and cultured and conceal the fact that I secretly love watching Googlebox and eating Haribo. The other reason that it’s something I enjoy is because it takes me back in time to when I was eight and being shouted at by Miss Peacock to lift my head up higher and do the arabesque at the same time as the other little girls in my class. The nostalgia! And the beautiful dresses. Let’s not forget the beautiful dresses.

Details of this production of Giselle that made it particularly wonderful include:

🩰 The orchestra is UNDERNEATH the stage. You know this because the conductors head pops up every-so-often.

🩰 Many of the cast are real couples! How ‘Valentinesy’!

🩰 Varna International Ballet & Orchestra was founded in Bulgaria 75 years ago, although the cast are from many different countries originally. Some members haven’t been to England before, but they promised they would explore Brighton in between rehearsals and shows.

🩰 Three completely different shows in the same number of days is rather impressive.

Giselle is a fantasy ballet filled with dramatic passion, love, treachery and forgiveness but there’s even a cheery moment involving a daisy!

The performers are incredible. There’s one moment when ‘Peasant Girl, Giselle’ played by Anastasia Lebedyk makes her way across the entire stage ON POINT but only on one foot! The strength and decorum required to achieve that is mind blowing. No doubt people who have more ballet knowledge than I can name the ‘hopping on the toes of one foot’ but this highlights that, even if you have a very basic ballet knowledge, and it’s not something you attend regularly and know, you can still enjoy it.

⇒ The Nutcracker is at 2.30pm and 7.45pm today – Wednesday 15th February 2023Book it now!



Theatre Royal Brighton
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