PICKING one word to describe Akran Khan’s Giselle is a tough one as so many fit the bill – captivating, haunting and beautiful to name just a few.

As a relatively new fan of the ballet, this reimagining of the tale of forbidden love, betrayal and the afterlife from the English National Ballet is one that is sure to please crowds.

It is clear to see why the more modern contemporary productions are proving so popular, mixing the precision and grace of classical ballet with more abstract interpretations and draw expressive inspiration from other cultures.

The first thing that hit you when you took your seat, even before a single dancer takes to the floor, was the presence of an orchestra.

The live music supporting the production offered so much more than a pre-recorded soundtrack, with Vincenzo Lamagna’s incredible score almost telling the story for you.

The jumps from a primal, pounding beat symbolising the animalistic nature of the lower classes, to the eerie yet beautiful music framing the ghost world in the second act, were just beautiful, only hampered by the occasional use of a crackling effect which did not really add anything other than a faint annoyance.

In contrast, however, some of the most effective moments were when there was no music at all, with the use of powerful long silences really pushing the attention onto the dancers themselves.

On the topic of the dancers, the kind of quality you might expect from a group as renowned as the English National Ballet really shone through in the performance, not just from the fantastic performances from the leads, but the entire ensemble.

The transition from the first to second act, between the living world and the ghost world, was emphasised so simply with the second half being almost entirely on pointe. A change which not only contributed to the ethereal aura of the performance, but really showed the strength and poise of the cast.

Among the highlights of the cast was artistic director Tamara Rojo, who brought a fantastic vulnerability and to the titular role of Giselle, while Stina Quagebeur as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, dominated the second act with a commanding presence, even when floating in the background.

Cesar Corrales’ portrayal of the shape-changer Hilarion was also highly noteworthy, with his display of erratic movements dominating the stage in the first act, and then mirrored in the second he met a brutal end at the hands of the Wilis.

The feature, however, which really made for the production’s unique gravitas and atmosphere was the dynamic use of lighting.

The layers of overhead spotlights offering an incredible depth and range to the performance, which manipulated the stage over and over again, painting silhouettes and shadows, flooding the stage with bodies using only a few people, shocking the audience with chilling reveals out of the darkness, and bathing the dancers in a haunting glow through the sheer effect on the costumes.

To return to the original description of captivating, haunting and beautiful, these really sum up what a spectacular show Giselle is, a modern take on a classic is an update that will appeal to all.

Akram Khan's Giselle is on at the Bristol Hippodrome from October 18-22.