Co-choreographed by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, Giselle made its American Repertory Ballet premiere at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in March 2023. This celebrated and moving production had its world premiere at the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2012 and has since toured the globe. Giselle was adapted into a feature film directed by Toa Fraser, and it was selected for screening in the NZ International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival. Stiefel and Kobborg’s Giselle was restaged and partially redesigned specifically for American Repertory Ballet by an award-winning and renowned creative team.

“The storytelling is masterful… This is a century-and-a-half-old ballet presented in a way that feels as authentic as the day it was born.”

The List U.K.

The tragic tale unfolds against the ghostly backdrop of a Rhineland forest haunted by the fearful presence of the “Wilis” – vengeful spirits of abandoned brides. The beautiful peasant girl Giselle falls for Albrecht who conceals his identity to win her. The discovery of her lover’s deception shatters Giselle’s innocence and causes her to die of a broken heart. Albrecht is thrown into the hands of the merciless Wilis, but Giselle cannot bear to watch him die and returns as a ghost to save him.

One of the most romantic story ballets of all time, Giselle illustrates the strength of love, the devastation of betrayal, and the power of forgiveness.

One minute promo reel

Co-Choreographer | Ethan Stiefel

Ethan Stiefel is an internationally recognized artist, educator and leader in the performing arts. Stiefel was the Principal Guest Instructor at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) from 2016-2021 and the Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) from 2011-2014. Just before being appointed the RNZB’s Artistic Director, he served as Dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) from 2007-2011.

Stiefel began his professional career at age 16 with the New York City Ballet where he quickly rose to the rank of Principal Dancer. He was also a Principal Dancer with Ballett Zürich and joined American Ballet Theatre as a Principal Dancer in 1997. 

During his career, Stiefel performed leading roles in all of the full-length classics and danced in an extensive range of shorter works created by the industry’s foremost classical, modern and contemporary choreographers. Read more about Ethan Stiefel here.

Co-Choreographer | Johan Kobborg

Johan Kobborg is a choreographer and former Principal Dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Ballet London, and most recently is the Former Artistic Director of the Ballet Opera National Bucharest. Kobborg has performed with some of the leading companies in the world, such as the Mariinsky, the Bolshoi, American Ballet Theatre and the National Ballet of Canada. As a choreographer, he has created works for companies such as the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, The Sarasota Ballet and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. (Photo by Morgan Norman)

Scenic Design | Howard Jones

Howard C. Jones is an acclaimed set designer and teacher. His designs have graced stages from coast to coast, including Starlight Theatre, Missouri Repertory Theater, American Heartland Theater, and theater companies in Boston and other east coast cities.

Music | Adolphe Adam

Adolphe Adam was a French composer whose music for the ballet Giselle (1841) is noted for its easy grace and cogency. It has retained its popularity with dancers and audiences to the present day.

Adam wrote more than 70operas, of which the most popular in their day were Le Châlet (1834), Le Postillon de Longjumeau (1836), and Giralda (1850). In his ballets—which he composed for production in London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, as well as Paris—he skillfully coordinated the music with choreographic demands. 

Costume Design | Natalia Stewart

Based in London, Natalia designs costumes and sets for ballet, opera and theatre. Natalia Stewart started her career as a classical ballet dancer, graduating from Moscow Choreographic Academy (Bolshoi Academy), Moscow, Russia.

A professional ballet dancer with Bolshoi Theatre and Moscow City Ballet, she performed many roles in classical and modern repertoire in Russia and around the world. In London Natalia received a BA in Theatre Design after completing her studies at the London College of Fashion. Immediately after, she worked in many London West End production as a wardrobe mistress (Grease, Sideman, Napoleon, D’Oyle Carte Opera).

In 2001 Natalia joined the Royal Opera House as a Costume Supervisor where she worked with world famous designers, realizing their vision for the stage (Yolanda Sonnabend, Peter Farmer, Anthony Dowell), and also preserving heritage classics of the Royal Ballet and Opera ( G.Balanchine, F.Ashton, K.MacMillan).

Lighting Design | Joseph R. Walls

Walls has created designs for The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Calgary’s The High Performance Rodeo, Washington D.C.’s Inter-American Development Bank. The New York Musical Festival, Washington DC Fringe Festival, The New York International Fringe Festival, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, The National Theatre of Panamá, Panamá’s Theatro Anayansi, The Figali Convention Center of Panamá, and New York City’s Fall for Dance Festival.

Photos by Rosalie O’Connor Photography 

Video editing by Michelle Quiner

“One of the finest Giselles I have ever seen.”

RNZ Sunday NZ


Full Length Ballet | Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes | One Intermission

Number of performers

36 dancers (may vary)

Tech Rider

Available upon request

Link to full performance video

Available upon request