Dance news. Dada Masilo’s Giselle Nottingham Royal Concert Hall 8-9 October

Dance Consortium presents South Africa’s award-winning




Dance Consortium, 20 large-scale UK theatres with a shared passion for engaging people with the best contemporary dance from across the world, presents South Africa’s award-winning dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo’s production of GISELLE between 4 October and 2 November 2019.

Following the international success of her acclaimed reinterpretations of Carmen, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, the Soweto-born, Johannesburg-based Masilo brings her latest production to Sadler’s Wells, London on 4 & 5 October, then Nottingham, Bradford, Birmingham, Salford Quays, Milton Keynes, Brighton and Canterbury, for its UK PREMIERE PERFORMANCES.

The tour is an exciting addition to Dance Consortium’s 2019 performance schedule and marks the Consortium’s 45th tour since 2000. Masilo’s Giselle is a Sadler’s Wells’ co-production.

Dancing in the title role, Masilo leads her company of fourteen exceptional dancers with theatrical mastery and her signature high speed style. Born and raised in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, Masilo trained in classical ballet and contemporary dance and in Giselle fuses these techniques with a range of African dance traditions, predominantly the Tswana of South Africa’s North West Province.

Giselle marks the fourth classic Masilo has reinterpreted in a decade and cements her growing reputation as a powerful and dynamic choreographic voice on the international stage.

Opening in a lively South African village, Masilo’s Giselle tells the story of a trusting peasant girl who is thrust into a world of betrayal and shame when her lover rejects her. Spurned by her family and killed by heartbreak, Giselle returns from the grave as a supernatural being bent on revenge. Barefoot and grounded in her body, Masilo’s protagonist is the antithesis of the weak, frail and vulnerable Giselle with whom we are familiar. Myrtha is recast as a male Sangoma, or traditional South African healer, and the Wilis are both male and female.

Masilo recontextualises the themes of grief and revenge inherent in the original and asserts a timely #metoo twist to the traditional Giselle narrative. Masilo says this is a coincidence as her production premiered prior to the #metoo movement, but comments: “I did aim to make a work which empowers women who are expected to be understanding, soft, tolerant and forgiving. It’s also very good for us to acknowledge that we are strong and powerful – and to use that power to say ‘I’m not going to take that, enough is enough’.”

In addition to shifting the story’s time and characters, Masilo also changes location: “I’ve set it in rural South Africa so we are dealing with different cultures and traditions. It’s about how people interact, how relationships are formed and the dynamics of those relationships in rural South Africa which is completely different from the world of classical ballet.

I did not consciously set out to ‘Africanize’ Giselle. It is just there. I am South African – this is where my roots are. My origins and environment infuse my work. I have also studied classical ballet. It’s about allowing the two to merge without losing the essence of the work.

For the music, Dada commissioned fellow South African Philip Miller to compose a new score, revisiting some of the original themes by Adolphe Adam, together with newly created music. “I love what he did,” Masilo says. “You hear themes from the original throughout. Philip incorporates this with African percussion, rhythm and voice.”

Dada Masilo’s Giselle received its world premiere at DansensHus, Oslo in 2017, co-commissioned by The Joyce Theater’s Stephen & Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work, the Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Lyon Dance Biennale 2018, and Sadler’s Wells. Additional commissioning grant from La Batie-Festival in Geneva, with additional funding from the Samro Foundation.


Dance Consortium presents Dada Masilo’s Giselle – UK Tour 2019 – listings information:

Sadler’s Wells LONDON

4 – 5 October at 7.30pm (PRESS NIGHT: Friday 4 October at 7.30pm)

Tickets: 0207 863 8000 //

Theatre Royal NOTTINGHAM

8 – 9 October at 7.30pm

Tickets: 0115 989 5555 //

Alhambra Theatre BRADFORD

11 – 12 October at 7.30pm

Tickets: 01274 432000 //


15 – 16 October at 7.30pm

Tickets: 0844 338 6000 //


22 – 23 October at 8pm

Tickets: 0343 208 6000 //


25 – 26 October at 7.30pm

Tickets: 0844 871 7652 //


29 – 30 October at 7.30pm

Tickets: 01273 709709 //

The Marlowe Theatre CANTERBURY

1 – 2 November at 7.30pm

Tickets: 01227 787787 //

Duration: 75 minutes – includes a 5 minute ‘technical’ pause, the audience remain seated

Dada Masilo’s Giselle:

Choreography: Dada Masilo

Music: Philip Miller

Drawings: William Kentridge

Directorial assistance: David April

Lighting design: Suzette le Sueur

Costumes: David Hutt of Donker Nag Helder Dag (Act 1);

Songezo Mcilizeli & Nonofo Olekeng of Those Two Lifestyle (Act 2)

Dada Masilo was born and bred in Johannesburg, South Africa. She began formal training at The Dance Factory at the age of 11. At the age of 19, she was accepted as a student at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, where she remained for two years. She returned to South Africa and in 2008, was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. Three commissions from the National Arts Festival resulted in her ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (2008), ‘Carmen’ (2009) and ‘Swan Lake’ (2010). Since 2012, her works have toured extensively throughout Europe. In 2016, she staged and performed her ‘Swan Lake’ in Ottawa, Montreal, Hannover, finishing with 6 performances at The Joyce Theater, New York. In May 2017, she premiered her ‘Giselle’ at DansensHus, Oslo. It has since played in Kuopio (Finland) at the University of Johannesburg; and at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Wits 969 Festival in Johannesburg, Impulstanz in Vienna (Austria), followed by seasons in Geneva, Rome, Ferrara and Reggio Emillio. 2017 ended with performances of Masilo’s ‘Swan Lake’ in Singapore and across Germany. In 2018, ‘Giselle’ was performed in Hanover NH, New York (at The Joyce Theater), in Los Angeles (at the Wallis-Annenberg) and at the Quick Center, Fairfield University. Subsequently, ‘Giselle’ has played in Montreal, Lyon and across Italy. Masilo has also collaborated with William Kentridge and has been seen in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens, Rome, New York, San Francicso, Los Angeles, Perth, Avignon and Vienna, in his ‘Refuse the Hour’. Masilo performs in her own works, together with some of South Africa’s finest dance artists, selected by audition. She is Artist-in-Residence at The Dance Factory.

Awards: 2016 Nominated for a Bessie Award (Swan Lake), 2017 Danza&Danza Award for ‘Best Performance 2017’ (Giselle), Prince Claus ‘Next Generation’ Award 2018.

Composer, Philip Miller was born in South Africa in 1964. Based in Cape Town, his work is multi-faceted, often developing out of collaborative projects in theatre, film, video and sound installations. Philip Miller trained firstly as a lawyer at the University of Witwatersrand and practised as a copyright lawyer. He studied music composition in South Africa with composers Jeanne Zaidel Rudolph and Peter Klatzow at the University of Cape Town Music School. He completed his postgraduate studies in Electro-Acoustic music composition for film and television at Bournemouth University. Whilst doing so he studied with UK composer Joseph Horovitz. He then returned to South Africa to begin working full time in music. One of Millers most significant collaborators is the internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music to Kentridges animated films, and multimedia installations, has been heard in some of the most prestigious museums, galleries and concert halls all over the world, including MoMA, SFMOMA, The Guggenheim Museums (both New York and Berlin), Tate Modern, La Fenice Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Miller’s compositional process could be best described as one of both musical excavation, fragmentation and then, rebuilding these fragments or shards working with both elaboration and layering and sound collagetechniques. It often incorporates samples of found sound’” recorded texts and shards of conversations which serve as counterpoint to the musical context in which they are embedded, intertwining both acoustic and electronic sound elements into his work. His works reflect on his pre-occupation with using sound as a means of exploring memory, states of trauma and the re-examination of historical archive in a sound world of his creation.He has scored numerous soundtracks to film and television programs, including his Emmy-nominated soundtrack to HBOs The Girl. Other recent scores include Miners Shot Down, The Bang Bang Club, Black Butterflies, and Phillip Noyces Mary and Martha. Miller is currently an honorary fellow at ARC (The Research Initiative in Archive and Public Culture) at the University of Cape Town.

Dance Consortium is a group of 20 large scale UK venues with a shared passion for engaging people with the best contemporary dance from across the world. Since its formation in 2000 Dance Consortium has presented 44 tours by 24 different companies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Israel and the USA. Their performances and education activities have been experienced by hundreds of thousands of people across all parts of the UK. Dance Consortium receives investment as a national portfolio organisation of Arts Council England.

Dance Consortium members: Grand Opera House Belfast; Birmingham Hippodrome; Alhambra Theatre Bradford; Brighton Dome; Marlowe Theatre Canterbury; Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff; Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin; Festival Theatre Edinburgh; Curve Theatre Leicester; The Peacock, London; Sadler’s Wells London; Milton Keynes Theatre; Theatre Royal Newcastle; Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham with Dance 4; Theatre Royal Plymouth; The Lowry Salford; The Mayflower, Southampton; New Victoria Theatre, Woking; Hull, New Theatre; Norwich Theatre Royal.


Photo credit: Dada Masilo (front) in the title role of her ‘Giselle’ production. Laurent Philippe

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