Possibly the best-loved of all ballets are “Giselle,” “La Bayadère,” and “Swan Lake.” Known as the White Ballets, they each tell stories of ethereal maidens costumed in floating white, who seem to be lovely creatures suspended somewhere between heaven and earth.
It is every ballerina’s dream to dance “Giselle.” Despite being frail, the simple peasant girl, Giselle, can’t give up dancing. She is afraid that if she dies before she weds, she will become a Wili, a spirit maiden who haunts the forests seeking revenge on young men. Though she can’t change her own fate, she finds a way to save the one she loves.
Nikiya is a beautiful temple dancer, a bayadère. She fights tradition when she falls in love with the warrior Solor. Solor has already been promised to a well-born girl, but he risks everything for Nikiya.
“Swan Lake” is also about recognizing true love and risking everything for it. Prince Siegfried meets Odile by the shores of a mysterious lake and he vows to marry her. But Odile is under a curse: she must spend every day in the form of a swan and is only human for a few hours during the night. If they are to spend eternity together, Siegfried has to find a way to lift the curse.
Rajka Kupesic, herself a dancer, has retold the stories and set them against her breathtaking art to create a book to cherish. Notes about the ballets are included.