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Dada Masilo’s Giselle

Posted on April 17, 2019

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Soweto-born dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo brings her latest production Giselle to the UK this autumn with London premiere performances at Sadler’s Wells on October 4 and 5, and a subsequent UK tour. Dancing in the title role, Masilo leads her company of 12 dancers to a score from South African composer, Philip Miller, which fuses electronic sampling from the orchestrations by Adolf Adams, layered with African voice and percussion.

Marking the fourth classic Masilo has reinterpreted in a decade, her Giselle opens in a South African village and tells the story of a trusting peasant girl betrayed by her lover. Spurned by her family and killed by heartbreak, Giselle returns from the grave as a supernatural being bent on revenge.

Mixing contemporary dance, traditional Tswana movement and the vocabulary of classical ballet, Masilo explore the themes of grief and revenge inherent in the original as well as adding a #MeToo twist to the traditional Giselle narrative.

Masilo says: “I wanted to make a ballet that was not pretty… I wanted to get away from that and bring it back home to South Africa and give it that edge, put it into that context. The world that we’re living in right now, there’s so much disruption, so much chaos happening, I think the Giselle that I made fits very well into what is happening round the world.”

The UK tour, presented by Dance Consortium, travels to Nottingham, Bradford, Birmingham, Salford, Milton Keynes, Brighton and concludes in Canterbury on November 2. For dates and further information, go to

Main image: Dada Masilo’s Giselle. Photograph by Stella Olivier

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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