By:  Hal de Becker



One might ask how a ‘youth dance company’ could possibly mount a successful and credible production of the venerated ballet classic Giselle. 


Las Vegas Ballet Company co-founders Yoomi Lee and Kyudong Kwak did it. 


They approached their production with reverence, knowledge and experience.  And they had a cast of accomplished, professional guest artists and talented, well-trained and rehearsed youngsters to work with. 


In the title role, Ms. Lee, a skilled, sensitive ballerina, possessed special attributes of temperament and artistry ideal for the character of Giselle.  Her slender lines and delicate demeanor were suggestive of Giselle’s frailty, and her affinity for the role deep and moving.    


Her dramatic range spanned the youthful innocence of Giselle’s first love, to her pain and madness after being betrayed by her beloved, Albrecht, and her otherworldly metamorphosis into the ethereal spirit who forgives and protects him. 


Her extensions, hops on pointe, and secure, controlled balance in the Act II solo adagio were all executed with ease and without ever stepping out of character.


Albrecht, who in order to woo Giselle conceals his true aristocratic identity, was portrayed by Steven Goforth, one of Nevada Ballet Theater’s stellar dancers. 


His performance was distinguished by innate noble bearing, convincing acting, smooth partnering and technical prowess.  


Particularly impressive was his 2nd Act solo consisting of double cabrioles (two aerial beatings of the legs), multiple entrechat six and sept (six and seven aerial leg crossings), clean double tours and much more.  


The role of Hilarion, Giselle’s first suitor, is often played as a minor one, but not in Mr. Kwak’s interpretation.  He displayed the Fine Art of mime with a striking performance   of nuanced gestures and face and body expressivity always reflecting the music.  Even the character’s thoughts were conveyed with perfect clarity.  


Not only is he a dancing actor par excellence, he also designed and constructed the two picturesque cottages for the village scene.


Myrtha the vengeful spirit Queen of the Wilis was danced by Laura Zimmerman.  Mark Early was appropriately haughty as the Duke, and Clara Heske persuasive as the noblewoman betrothed to Albrecht. 


The Peasant Pas de Deux was danced by Karissa Ng whose sharp leaps and turns were enhanced by her warm smile.  She was well-partnered by Samuel Kwak.  Summer Reece as a lead Wili danced with conspicuous musicality and flowing lines.


Many more are deserving of special mention but, suffice to say, it’s not possible to name everyone.  However, from the carefree peasant dances to the eerie graveyard scene with its famous crossings in arabesque, all the youthful soloists and corps de ballet delivered splendid performances notable for outstanding dancing, unity and acting.  


One of the highlights of Act 1was the inclusion into the village festivities of a group of captivating six and seven year old tots.  The numerous real ballet steps they had at their command were unique for their tender age.       


Costuming was lush and fresh.  Colorful peasant blouses and skirts in pastel pink, yellow and blue and the full length white tulle dresses of the ghostly Wilis heightened the atmosphere of both Acts.         


With LVBC’s successful production of this challenging ballet its artistic level has reached new heights.