Dance Preview: The pirouettes are in the park this month, courtesy of Dance Theatre of Tennessee

giselleThis weekend and next, the people’s ballet company will perform the people’s ballet. That company, of course, is Dance Theatre of Tennessee, which will perform the wildly popular ballet Giselle for its second annual Ballet in the Park.

Premiered in Paris in 1841, Giselle is the quintessential romantic ballet. It tells the story of a young nobleman who disguises himself as a peasant to seduce the beautiful, delicate and innocent village girl Giselle. Despite warnings from her friends and family, Giselle falls for the rogue. And when she discovers he’s really a noble engaged to another, she dies of a broken heart.

But this is a fairy tale, so the story doesn’t end there. The duke’s deceit angers the Wilis, somewhat humorless supernatural beings who lure young men to their deaths by dancing. They waste little time with the arrogant duke and condemn him to a dancing death. Can anyone save him? You’ll have to catch one of Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s shows to find out.

The title role is among the most coveted in the dance world, and DTT’s lithe and lively prima ballerina Jennifer Drake promises to be a gravity-defying China doll of a Giselle. Brian Williamson should make an athletic noble.

DTT ran into some weather problems at last year’s inaugural Ballet in the Park. But that didn’t stop nearly 1,300 people from showing up to two concerts. More would have attended if not for the rain and cancellations.

The company isn’t taking any chances this year and will present Giselle over the course of two weekends. Performances at the Centennial Park Bandshell are 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 20-22 and Friday through Monday, Sept. 27-30. Preshow entertainments begin at 6:30 p.m. and food trucks will be on hand with refreshments.

DTT is intent on bringing ballet to the people, so the performances are free. (A $10 donation is suggested so that DTT can bring ballet to even more people.) The Sept. 30 show will help launch this year’s Artober celebration.

DTT has produced a pretty cool preview video of Giselle, which you can watch here. A review of the ballet will appear on ArtsNash on Saturday, Sept. 21.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.


  1. […] can read a preview of this year’s Ballet in the Park here. ArtsNash will attend Sunday’s concert, and a review will appear on this website first thing […]