ballet explained: giselle, act 1, part 1

giselle | movita beaucoup

Our story takes place in a small Rhineland village. The grape harvest is underway, and a bunch of people with ridiculous names are about to do some weird and confusing things. That’s what people did during the Middle Ages. Netflix hadn’t been invented yet.

Hilarion is a gamekeeper – that’s better than being a rat catcher but less cool than being a falconer. Hilarion is in love with Giselle. Giselle is a shy peasant girl who lists dancing, fairs, and hammer-throwing competitions among her interests. Hilarion has been skulking around Giselle’s cottage for weeks, leaving dead birds and bouquets on the doorstep, hoping she will one day agree to marry him. However, he’s getting the distinct impression that she’s not into him, and might, in fact, be into someone else. This is probably because in recent days Giselle has been prancing around the village with a new guy.

giselle | movita beaucoup

The new guy is Duke Albrecht of Silesia, who has a castle overlooking the village. One day, whilst slumming it, Albrecht spotted Giselle and fell hopelessly in love with her. But there were some… obstacles. First off, Albrecht was already engaged to Princess Bathilde of Courland. Second, his high social position would not permit marriage to country folk like Giselle.

So Albrecht hatches a brilliant plan. And by brilliant, I mean completely full of holes. (This is typical of almost all ballet plans.) Albrecht and his attendant, Wilfred, move into a cottage across from the crib Giselle shares with her mother. Albrecht figures he can keep his noble position secret if he disguises himself as a peasant farmer. He also adopts a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy regarding his impending marriage. Wilfred is feeling pretty uneasy about the situation, as even he can spot a bad ballet plan when he sees one.

giselle | movita beaucoup

Albrecht introduces himself to Giselle as Loys, but I’m just gunna keep calling him Albrecht so you don’t get confused. Albrecht was pretty hot, so it takes about ten seconds for Giselle to fall in love with him. On a positive note, she thought he was poor, so her feelings were obviously based solely on his looks, not his money. Adding to Albrecht’s appeal is the fact that he’s got some sweet moves on the dance floor and Giselle is mad crazy for dancing.

giselle | movita beaucoup

Albrecht’s moves have not gone unnoticed by Hilarion, who is wondering where the heck Albrecht came from. He is suspicious of the stranger who has turned up inexplicably in the village and believes Albrecht to be a masquerader. (Which is almost as bad as being a mime.)

So, on this particular autumn morning, the sun comes up and Albrecht starts flirting with Giselle again. Giselle is all: I am happy, trusting and full of love. NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG.

This, of course, is foreshadowing. Absolutely everything could go wrong.

giselle | movita beaucoup


  1. AHAnto on July 9, 2014 at 8:23 am

    What, that’s IT???! I was just getting into it. And where’s the CAKE?!?! : )

    • movita beaucoup on July 9, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Don’t worry! There’s lots more to come – we’re just getting started! Things are gunna get weird.

      I ate the cake.

  2. Ang on July 9, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Edge Of My Seat!!! Please don’t make us wait a week . . . for the next installment . . . PPUUHHLLEEEESSSE!!! With a cherry on top?

    • movita beaucoup on July 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Why, there just might be another instalment tomorrow, Ang! But only because you said PPUUHHLLEEEESSSE.

  3. Megan on July 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I’m hooked. If this were Netflix, I would instantly hit next episode.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:45 am

      Gah! Best comment EVER!!

  4. ironwoodfarm on July 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I love the movita-style details, from the translation/text to the costumes and most especially the humour! Definitely worth the (short) wait – and delicious, even without the cake! Love it!!

  5. ironwoodfarm on July 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Oh…and the farmer’s mother is from Silesia. 🙂

    • movita beaucoup on July 9, 2014 at 11:34 am


      I need to meet this woman immediately. Do you think she knew Duke Albrecht?

  6. ironwoodfarm on July 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she was served tea by the Duke’s daughter (oh, wait…do he and Giselle end up having kids?).
    Have you really never met the farmer’s mother? Clearly you spend too much time at the lamb roast taking pictures (please don’t stop taking copious photos at the lamb roast…).

  7. Margie on July 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    You are an absolute “hoot”. I love it.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:46 am

      Thanks, Margie!!

  8. Bonnie on July 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    OK MOVITA!!!!!! This is a CHARM! I always wondered about Giselle. Love the pics with the bubble quotes……..Great, great, great. Did Giselle live on a cake once? Can’t wait for part 2. PS I might know the farmer’s mother.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:47 am

      Giselle is really into cake – I should have mentioned that above. She a real fan of European buttercream… I bet the farmer’s mother is too!

  9. Willow @ Will Cook For Friends on July 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    GAH! THE SUSPENSE! Also, if all ballets were depicted like this, I would be much better at appreciating them. All I can say is, bravo! I can’t wait for part 2. 🙂

    (Also, I have a friend who does a webcomic of Shakespeare’s work, which is similarly delightful (assuming you know enough about Shakespeare to get the jokes). Not sure if you’re into the bard or not, but the comic is called Good Tickle Brain, if you’d like to check it out. And yes, I realize Shakespeare’s plays aren’t ballet. I’m not that uneducated. Quite.)

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:51 am

      This, of course, is my theory, Willow. One day, I will have educated the masses, and ballet will experience the same popularity as Real Housewives.

      I’ve just checked out Good Tickle Brain, and have added it to my Feedly. Because it is all sorts of awesome!!

  10. cardsbymo on July 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Ohhhhhh…I am intrigued! Mainly because I know that old ballets are not like American films where everyone lives happily ever after. They are more like Hamlet where everyone bites it, including the main character!

    • movita beaucoup on July 9, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Yes, friend, people will bite it. On the plus side, they’ll look good as they meet their demise…

  11. gottagetbaked on July 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    You are freaking hilarious. As much as I am in complete awe of ballet dancers and the incredible strength, beauty and overall ermagawd-ness of what they do, I was never into watching ballets (I’m sorry! Please still be friends with me!). If ballets were all like this, with the sassy thought bubbles and witty asides, I’d be all over them!

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Lady, Imma gunna make you loves ballet. I mean, we’ve still gotta talk about The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Les Sylphides, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, La Bayadère, Coppélia…

  12. sublimedelights on July 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    You are making this VERY fun!

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Mission accomplished!!

  13. natalie @ wee eats on July 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm


    • movita beaucoup on July 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Oh, Natalie. All the things. All the things could go wrong…

  14. Matt on July 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Perhaps Giselle is an M.D. incognito and can help out poor Hilarion and Wilfred with their severe cases of jaundice, and sad Duke with his anemia.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:57 am

      Um, Matt? I’m sad to say that Giselle… ain’t that smart. {sigh}

  15. Pink Peep on July 10, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Seriously, the butt shot of the Duke is almost as sweet as the butt shot of Matt Dillion when the opening credits roll on Gunsmoke.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:59 am

      And a star is born…

  16. Juls on July 10, 2014 at 2:37 am

    This story also needs more cats.

    • movita beaucoup on July 10, 2014 at 5:15 am

      True story: I work a cat into almost every ballet I choreograph.

      Also true: other choreographers aren’t nearly as dedicated to the effort as I am.

  17. Little fairies on May 23, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Ballet comedy at its best

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