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Veronica Lee-Baik and Company Reconstruct “Giselle”

Alumna Veronica Lee-Baik '98 covers much exciting new ground with her company, The Three Yells. On January 6-7, it's "Giselle Deconstruct." An appreciation of multiple disciplines and the ease of collaboration has kept her close to Cornish.

The photos are haunting: dancers crouching beneath clear plastic bins or encased in hoops, moving through stabbing light. The imagery belongs to Veronica Lee-Baik ’98, artistic director of The Three Yells, for her upcoming performance of Giselle Deconstruct on January 6-7 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, brought to the public by Cornish Presents. It is a show The Stranger calls "A hypnotizing and super-creepy display of powerful feminist #squadgoals.” As with all her pieces, Giselle Deconstruct is heavy on collaboration with other artists, and it is to her alma mater, Cornish, that she most often turns to for partnerships. After all, as a home for both the performing and visual arts, Cornish is a one-stop source for collaborators of all kinds.

Giselle Deconstruct has three alumni in the project, Lee-Baik, dancers Dakota Crist '15 and Tala Baldwin '15, along with Performance Production faculty members Tristan Roberson and Brendan Hogan.

As the name implies, the project is a deconstruction of the well-known Romantic ballet Giselle. In the 1841 work by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot set to the music of Adolphe Adam, Giselle is a peasant girl who is tricked in love by a nobleman and, at a country fair, dances herself to death. In spectral form, she later saves the nobleman from the same fate at the hands of malevolent spirits. In Lee-Baik’s hands, Giselle is reduced to its constituent parts of “madness, death, spirits, true love, grief, revenge, tradition, and reinterpreted through the playful and grotesques juxtaposed between slow hyper-controlled motion with the athleticism of contemporary dance.”

“This reinterpretation will explore Giselle’s death through love by madness and suicide,” says Lee-Baik. “The biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide, suicide is most acute in the part of the world where I come from. Young women in parts of Southeast Asia are some of the most disempowered and marginalized people in the world. Like Giselle, it is stifling traditions, poverty, and unrequited love that drive these young girls to end their lives. Giselle Deconstruct aims to transcend the feeling of female degradation to liberation and empowerment through movement.”

Giselle Deconstruct is part of Cornish Presents' 2016/17 season. This interdisciplinary program brings guest artists to campus. Advance tickets for this show are available through Brown Paper Tickets.