Grace under pressure : re-reading Giselle
'Grace Under Pressure: Re-reading Giselle' is a close reading of the Romantic ballet Giselle (1841) , focusing on the Birmingham Royal Ballet production of 3 March 1992. The Preface provides a personal introduction, and notes the status of ballet within dance studies and the academy. It also observes that in choosing Giselle as a text one is required to reassess the historical treatment of emotion and beauty within academic feminism. Chapter One gives an historical background to Giselle, a literature review and a methodological overview. Ballet has received relatively little attention from the academy in comparison with other performing arts. Whilst dance scholarship is a growth area in the university, ballet remains neglected. Hence, in order to bring theory across from areas of greater academic activity, this thesis is structured around textual juxtaposition. Thus Chapter Two compares the plot of Giselle with that of the film Blade Runner, and Chapter Three compares the movement of Giselle with that in the book SEX by Madonna. These comparative texts were also first viewed in 1992: whilst Giselle is usually categorized as 'High' art, however, they belong in the popular domain. This thesis demonstrates that the comparative texts differ from their own genres, dystopian fiction and pornography. Consequently, Giselle is shown to be materially different from other Romantic ballets, particularly in its selfreflexive critical framework. Chapter Four concludes the discussion of the 1841 and the 1992 Giselles, and focuses on the repercussions of this study for the academy and the production and reception of ballet. Throughout this thesis runs the assumption, common in dance studies but less overt in English Literature, that academic activity is a personal and political activity, and that a study such as this requires that one engage with the status of academic enquiry both within and without the academy.