Giselle at the Terme di Caracalla

So I had a few goals when I came to Italy for the summer to intern at the American University of Rome to fulfill part of my practical experience hours in my graduate program at Clemson University:

(1) Do not decline invitations to do cool stuff– No exceptions

(2) See a performance somewhere in Italy (Dance or Opera)

(3) Learn as much as I possibly can about Italian culture, AUR culture, and the culture of Student Services at AUR

I succeeded at Goal #2 by going to see Giselle (the ballet) at the Baths of the Caracalla outside theatre.

If you’d like to know the whole story of Giselle, then visit here.

This link shows pictures of a performance with the same type of costumes and choreography with some of the background information. (I was not allowed to take pictures during the performance–even though people did anyways.)

If you would like a Colleens-Cliffs Notes version, listen here:

There’s this prince that dresses down to be a commoner, because he finds this beautiful dancing lady. They pretty much fall in love while dancing together. There are a few problems with this dancing magic, though. (1) The lady (Giselle) is already betrothed to this respectable village guy her own status. (2) Giselle does not know that her new love is a prince. And (3) the prince is actually about to marry another princess.

Once Giselle finds out about the princess and the prince’s real identity, thanks to mister respectable village man, she basically dances herself insane/to death. (It depends which version you read/watch.) She goes a little batty and ends up taking the prince’s sword to her own body.

The second act is all about Giselle in her Wili (dancing ghost) self. The legend of the Wilis is that they come out in the forest at night to dance, and if any unmarried male is in the forest between dusk and dawn, the Queen of the Wilis will use her powers to make the Wilis dance the guy to death.

So of course Giselle was buried in this forest. Both prospective guys (the prince and mister respectable) come to visit the grave close to dusk- not a great idea. The respectable village guy gets caught pretty quickly, and he basically had no chance of keeping up with those Wilis with how fast and beautiful they dance. Mr. Respectable dies from exhaustion. While that is happening Giselle is dancing for fun with her Prince lover. It’s cute. Then the Queen of the Wilis finds them and uses her power to make Giselle dance with him until exhaustion. He falls a couple of times; it’s really dramatic. But surprisingly he stays alive just until dawn arrives. Lucky prince.

I left a lot of details out, but you get the gist. Anyways, the performance at Terme di Caracalla was absolutely beautiful with the scenery and the stage (you can see below.) The Giselle performance fed my soul and made me want to start dancing again. So afterwards I rounded up my closest Clemson friends that I knew danced, and we have a plan to rent a studio once a week to just do our thing. Needless to say, I’m very psyched! I will dust off my old pointe shoes, teach a few tricks, learn a little hip hop, and find my personal balance again.  Salute!

I definitely recommend any show in Roma, Italia. You will not be disappointed.

Terme di Caracalla Stage for Giselle


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