Looking exactly like the young Mitzi Gaynor, tiny Anna de Cardi made an unusually childlike and vivacious Giselle in the final Australian Ballet performance of the Romantic classic at the Orange County Performing Arts Center Friday.
Recently promoted to senior artist--the second-highest rank in the Australian Ballet hierarchy--De Cardi had lost her usual Albrecht to injury and was dancing "Giselle" opposite David Ashmole (previously reviewed) for the first time on the company's North American tour. However, their partnership betrayed no hint of insecurity and, indeed, Ashmole muted De Cardi's tendency to chop the flowing adagio passages of the last act into allegro tasks divided by pauses.
Except for this emphasis on speed and sharpness, De Cardi danced the role persuasively, and her acting had both warmth and spontaneity to recommend it. Especially artful: the idea of Giselle losing control of her dancing in the Mad Scene and being propelled toward her doom. Obviously, the living Giselle suits De Cardi better right now than moonstruck Wilidom, but she's only in her early 20s, so there's plenty of time to explore the glories beyond the grave. The promise is there.
Apart from De Cardi, the Friday "Giselle" and "Catalyst" (the curtain raiser) reunited principals familiar from earlier performances. John Lanchbery again conducted.