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This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on June 15, 2006.

June 15 (Bloomberg) — American Ballet Theatre is concluding a week of “Giselles,” fielding no fewer than five ballerinas in the title role.

Diana Vishneva, from the Kirov Ballet, plays the tragic heroine Saturday evening. The ballet has been going strong since 1841 and the part has been called “the ballerina’s `Hamlet.”’

Giselle, an innocent peasant girl whose aristocratic suitor betrays her, goes mad — lengthily and vividly — dying when her weak heart finally cracks. She returns as an unwilling initiate into a tribe of vengeful female ghosts and rescues her fickle lover from their clutches.

Among the dancer’s tasks is looking impalpable while executing jumps and leaps that present a major cardiovascular challenge. Another is making the Romantic-era melodrama believable.

Vishneva, one of the most versatile and effective ballerinas of her generation, is unquestionably equal to the assignment. Already a dazzling technician and a forceful actress, she’s now reaching for the poetic dimension of the role.

Bye-Bye, Bocca

Ardent fans of ABT’s Julio Bocca will assemble June 22 at the Metropolitan Opera House, when the beloved Argentinean star gives his farewell performance with the company.

Part 1 of the event will be Bocca’s dancing the male lead in Kenneth MacMillan’s “Manon” opposite Alessandra Ferri, a longtime partner who complements his own fervor.

Part 2 will be the curtain calls. Onstage, ABT’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, will present the traditional laurel wreath and a parade of dance luminaries will pay homage. The audience will contribute the standing ovation and flower throw.

Bocca’s many enthusiasts will miss his dynamic energy and meticulous form, as well as his convincing acting and personal charisma. But he knows it’s time to quit.

He looks forward to a life without constant training, surgery to repair inevitable injuries, and the isolation that comes with celebrity and endless touring.

Still, he isn’t turning his back on dance. He’ll continue to lead his own company, Ballet Argentino, and explore the blending of classical ballet with the tango, the signature dance of his birthplace.

© 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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