Giselle glows bright in the moonlight

What would you do if you were raised from your grave to join a gang of vengeful spirits? Why, dance in the misty moonlight, of course!

Before we get into the next installment of Giselle’s story, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Paige (yes, the dancer of this series) who has been accepted into full-time dance study at Annaliese Gilberd Academy in Christchurch. If you follow Paige on Instagram, it looks like she’s working hard and having an absolute ball. Go Paige!

Also, if you’re interested in seeing me do my digital magic thing, the Waipa libraries are hosting “Artists at Work” during the month of March. I’ll be at the Cambridge library on the 24th and 31st of March, 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 3pm, working on my secret, new series. Come along and say hi! (Books and art. It doesn’t get much better than that!)

Ok, back to Giselle. She’s just risen from her grave to join the wilis (if you missed the previous parts, you can read them all here).

My sketches of Giselle's story from the ballet
My sketches of Giselle’s story from the ballet

“Dance,” orders Myrtha.

Freed from the earth, Giselle spins in abandoned circles. She skips and leaps through the glade, light as air.
The wilis hear something. Someone is coming. They melt away into the darkness of the forest.

Giselle lingers, hidden. She sees Albrecht approaching her grave, accompanied by his squire. Albrecht swirls back his long cloak and places a armful of pure white lilies before the cross on the ground.
Albrecht’s squire frantically tries to convince him to leave. It’s not safe in the forest after midnight. But Albrecht orders him away.
Kneeling, he buries his head in his hands, begging Giselle to forgive him.
Giselle glides out from the shadows. Albrecht stands to leave, and suddenly catches sight of her. He can’t believe his eyes and rushes towards her but Giselle flees into the forest. Albrecht has lost her.
Albrecht, heart heavy, bows his head in grief. He doesn’t see the white figure darting into the grove behind him. Giselle floats around him, close, but not touching.
Albrecht raises his head and catches sight of Giselle. Time after time, he tries to catch her, but she vanishes. Finally, Giselle takes pity on Albrecht and once again, they dance together.

This is Paige dancing Giselle #6

©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, Freed from the earth. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm
©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, Freed from the earth. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm

This is another piece that we shot on a stunningly sunny, hot, summer afternoon. I transformed it into misty moonlight by painting in the light and I love how she glows in the moonlight.

Don’t tell anyone, but for this piece we were actually trying for a grand jeté (you know, that huge leap the dancers do where they basically do the splits mid-air). Paige does it easily. But unfortunately, capturing that shot requires perfect timing on the photographer’s part, and the magic didn’t quite happen on the day. So, it’ll have to be something to look forward to next time Paige and I collaborate.

Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, <i>Freed from the earth</i>. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm
Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, Freed from the earth. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm

This is one of the prints I sold at the Raglan Arts Weekend (but don’t worry, it’s an edition of 10 so I have 8 left). Anne gave me a wonderful testimonial about this piece. (Thank you, Anne. I was totally dancing around my studio after I got your email!)

It is always very special to be able to take home a memento of a great holiday break and I am delighted with “Freed from the Earth”. I was immediately drawn to the ethereal quality of Paige’s dance and the way you had portrayed her gown. She is now hanging in our home and looking just lovely – makes me smile every time I look at it.

Anne from Auckland

If you’d like your own print of “Freed from the earth” on your wall, you can email me at

Next time

We’re nearly at the vengeance part and Giselle is about to be faced with a hard decision. I’m not sure I’d have the strength and courage to do what she does next…

Keep on shining bright,