Valentine’s Day may be over, but romance and fantasy needn’t be. If you subscribe to that philosophy, why not check out Swan Lake, acknowledged as one of the greatest classical ballets of all time, this March, which opens the Singapore Dance Theatre’s 2012 performing season?
The ballet tells a story of whirlwind romance between Princess Odette, who has been captured and transformed into a swan by the curse of an evil sorcerer, and Prince Siegfried, a man of pure heart and love. To break the spell, true and honest love must be declared before the 2 can be together. It’s a tale familiar even to children who have watched animated movie The Swan Princess, which was based on it.
Originally premiered by the SDT in December 2007, their production was very well received by both critics and audiences. International magazine Dance Europe praised the company as being “capable of competently presenting one of the classics of the ballet repertory”.
The SDT is the same company that have brought Singapore a vast ballet repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary in the past, like 2011’s The Nutcracker, and the annual Ballet Under The Stars. Currently consisting of 34 dancers, the company is a repertory one, meaning it collects a variety of ballets and continues working on them for future performances.
Swan Lake is presented in 4 acts, each mesmerising in its own right, beginning with Siegfried’s 21st birthday celebration within the castle walls in Act 1 and culminating by the lake in the final act, where Odette and Siegfried drown in the lake before ascending into Heaven together, united in love for all eternity.
The breathtaking dances in Swan Lake are personally crafted by internationally known choreographers for the SDT. Taking on the challenge of the marvellous choreography aren’t novices in feathered tutus, but professional young dancers with the poise and finesse to give Natalie Portman a run for her money.
Rosa Park, who performed the same role in a previous production, dances the lead ballerina role of Princess Odette. The unique thing about Swan Lake is the dual-role of princess Odette and of Von Rothbart’s daughter, the Black Swan Odile. The last 2 acts explain how Odile beguiles Prince Siegfried into confessing his love for her instead of Odette. The lead male dancer Chen Peng, will reprise his role as Prince Siegfried from the 2007 production of the ballet.
An essential component of Swan Lake is its iconic music, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1876, a year before the ballet’s premiere in Moscow. The famed Russian also wrote the music in ballets The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. The SDT appears to be a fan of the great composer, having performed The Nutcracker last December and Sleeping Beauty, with the latterscheduled for a return in late 2012.
As many people’s knowledge of the professional world of ballet is limited to what they’ve seen in Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan, they may be surprised to note that the ballet industry isn’t quite as theatrical and dramatic as depicted in the film.
Therefore, if you’re new to the world of ballet, then this might be a less intimidating production for you to get properly introduced to the art form. Schergen hopes that the re-staging of Swan Lake will attract ballet novices to attend, commenting, “It has spectacle, great music and a clear plot to follow.”
With the masterful skill of Schergen, along with the iconic tunes of Tchaikovsky, and a collection of the finest dancers, Swan Lake promises an unforgettable night.