Three dancers are cast to dance the title role in Silicon Valley Ballet's upcoming production of Alicia Alonso's Giselle. We caught up with Principal Dancer Junna Ige, and asked her about taking on one of ballet's most challenging and beloved roles. This will be Junna's first time preparing the role of Giselle for the stage, and she can barely contain her excitement. "My teacher is coming from Japan to see me dance," exclaims Junna. "And I'm excited to learn about the romantic style from Cuban experts."
Following the footsteps of the great ballerinas who have danced the challenging role of Giselle before her, Junna names Alessandra Ferri and Kelsey Kirkland as her favorite interpreters. She has been watching video of their past performances, and names Kirkland's first act variation as a favorite. "Dancing the first act I think will be more natural for me," explains Junna. "Giselle's story in the first act is one I can relate to. She's a girl, she meets a boy, she falls in love - these are things I have experienced, and I can draw on my own stories to tell Giselle's. But I think the second act will be a new challenge, because I will need to tell the story of a spirit, of something that isn't quite human anymore. Dancing as a spirit, and showing the audience what it means to be a purely emotional being while maintaining a sense of separation from the living world and from Albrecht is an inspiring challenge. The quality of weightlessness required in the second act will be a technical challenge as well, requiring total control of every part of the body."
Although it's a tragedy, the story of Giselle is one of Junna's favorites. "Her story is about love," says Junna, "and I want to tell that story." We can't wait to see her do so!