Stillness and speed, spine chills and tears: Stella Abrera triumphs as Giselle

Stella Abrera, guesting for the Australian Ballet as Giselle, gave an extraordinary performance this week, dancing the role with such subtlety and nuance that her transition from a naïve young woman to a spirit was a joy to watch.

Abrera moved from playfulness to modesty, from fragility to frenzy, and finally to a state of grief so intense in the mad scene that her depiction was one of the most moving, tear-inducing I’ve ever seen.

With her expressive arms, her eloquent feet and her exquisite long legs, Abrera was made for dancing the role, skimming through the ballonnés, ballottés and jetés as if she was carried by the wind.

Her stillness, as well as her speed, was a major factor in her performance.

As she learns the truth about the deceitful Albrecht, she stands still for what seems like a very long time. Her back is curled over, facing away from the audience, her legs placed in an unballetic position in what could be a moment from Mats Ek’s contemporary and gangly Giselle.

This was a spine chilling moment, as was the slow lift of Abrera’s leg to an arabesque in Act II. Abrera’s facility was obvious but it was her interpretation that marked her as an outstanding dancer.

She was promoted to the rank of soloist at American Ballet Theatre in 2001 but why she is still a soloist and not a principal is a puzzle.

Perhaps after her performances of Giselle with ABT in New York next month, this may change. I hope it does but I doubt it. If the artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, still hasn’t elevated Abrera to the top by now, why would he do it this year?

She began her dance training in California and later spent six years in Sydney training with the late Monica Halliday and her twin, Joan Halliday who remains very proud of their former student.

On Wednesday, (15 April) the company danced to a high standard, in particular, Ty King-Wall as Albrecht, Miwako Kubota and Brett Chynoweth in the Peasant pas de deux, Brett Simon as Hilarion and Valerie Tereshchenko as Myrtha.

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  1. […] she completed her “ethereal” interpretation of Giselle with Ballet Philippines, Stella gave another lauded performance in the role as a guest in the Australian Ballet’s production of Giselle in April 2015. After […]

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Stella Abrera and Ty King-Wall, rehearsing Giselle, Australian Ballet, photo © Kate Longley

Stella Abrera rehearsing Giselle for the Australian Ballet, photo © Kate Longley

Stella Abrera, NYC Dance Project, photo © Deborah Ory and Ken Browar