Giselle: Ballet Paper Cut

A ballerina cut out of paper, representing ballet character Giselle

Paper Cut of Ballerina: Giselle (Act 1)

Today I’m sharing a little ballet paper cut project I designed, featuring a ballerina. Having been inspired by amazing paper cutout artists, I thought it would be fun to create one of my own.

Of course, it had to have a dance theme. So here is Giselle, in her Act 1 costume of the ballet of the same name.

Giselle is my favourite classical ballet, and I love the peasant scenes in the first act, with the costumes and dances that recreate rural life of the pre-industrial era.

Although not authentic folk costume, and designed with ease of movement in mind, Giselle’s dress evokes fairytales with its laced bodice and little apron.

In fact, most costumes for this character have an even smaller apron than this. Like the wings of the Wilis in Act 2, it’s barely there — just a symbolic scrap of cloth. I figured I’d give my paper cut-out dancer something a little more substantial.

My Giselle ballet paper cut doesn’t feature any particular ballerina. She was inspired by many different dancers who have taken on this role. (Although her hair and costume are different, her big dark eyes and dark hair make me think of Alina Cojocaru.)

My paper cutting is in a 6×8 inch frame, but the dancer cutting is less than 6 inches high. It was difficult for me, as a paper cutting novice, to work so small and this explains why some of those lines might look broad — any thinner and they would have broken!

Giselle Ballerina Cut Out Against Other Background Shades

I used a fairly thin white paper, having found my original card and heavyweight papers too thick to work with. Underneath, I have navy blue card, although it is very dark and does look black in the picture. I wanted to keep it blue, as that’s the colour I associate with Giselle. A few productions have her in earth shades (Royal Ballet, Australian Ballet). But she is usually found dancing through the first act in blue dress twinned with white peasant blouse.

As you can see, the ballet paper cut takes on a different look with different backing papers, including gold and a pearlescent light blue. It’s one of the beauties of paper-cutting that you can switch out different contrast colours simply by placing it on a variety of different papers.

I hope to create some more of these ballet dancers soon. In the meantime, if you want to see some impressive paper cutting by a pro, look no further than Parth Kothekar. This paper artist’s work is so intricate and detailed, even when at a small scale. Even though what I’ve done here is much simpler, it was Parth who inspired me to give it a go.