Fraser a Classical Dance Convert with New Film Giselle
New Zealand director and playwright Toa Fraser admits he wasn’t much of a dance fan before setting out to make Giselle, a new full-length film of the 1841 Romantic ballet of the same name, that had its North American premiere recently at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Fraser, whose dramatic comedy, Dean Spanley, starring Peter O’Toole and Sam Neill showed at TIFF in 2008, grew up in New Zealand playing rugby when not fighting on the streets as part of an adolescence caught up in gang warfare.
Today, it is no exaggeration to call him a classical dance convert – he now understands that ballet is fearless. “In rugby we expect our heroes to walk off the field looking like shit: bleeding and moaning and their wounds bared. If not, it can’t be said they played a game. But in ballet it is precisely the opposite: They have performed incredible feats and gone the limit with their bodies but they are expected to hold it all in, show nothing of the pain involved.”
For the most part, his Giselle pays direct homage to the French original.
It is a stage production brought to the big screen with allegorical scenes of the ballet’s leads shot on location in New York and Shanghai dropped in to create a heightened sense of drama in the here and now.
The interval between the two acts is filled with an original pop score by fellow New Zealander, Don McGlashan.