Who Made Giselle? | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Who Made Giselle?



To the editors:

I always appreciate Dorothy Samachson's columns on dance. Her recent notes on the Kirov were no exception [May 22]. I think her pen must have slipped, however, when she attributed the ballet Giselle to choreographer Marius Petipa. As I'm sure she knows, it was choreographed by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli in 1841.

Claudia Sloan


Dorothy Samachson replies:

Of course Ms. Sloan is absolutely correct. Giselle was choreographed by Perrot and Coralli in 1841 for Carlotta Grisi in the title role. The story of the ballet was suggested by Theophile Gautier, who was in love with Grisi. But the story was not original with Gautier, who found it in a collection of legends in Heinrich Heine's De l'Allemagne ("About Germany"); the actual libretto was by Vernoi de Saint-Georges.

I can only blame editorial imps for the error and myself for not checking copy before it went to the printer. However, over a century and a half, Giselle has been redone by many choreographers, and the one that is now danced by the Russians and by many other companies is the one Marius Petipa reconstructed in 1887 in Russia.

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