The Russian National Ballet Theater performed Swan Lake at the Haugh Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8 (Courtesy of the Haugh Performing Arts Center)
More than a thousand guests filled the seats of the Haugh Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8 to witness the talent of the Russian National Ballet Theater perform the iconic “Swan Lake.”
The cast of more than 50 remarkable dancers told the story of “Swan Lake,” a ballet that originally premiered in Moscow on March 4, 1877.
With choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the performance begins in the garden of Prince Siegfried’s castle.
A young man coming of age, Prince Siegfried is faced with the duties of war, as well as the expectations of finding a wife.
Draped in a gold robe and sparkling jewels, with breathtaking hair fit for Hollywood’s red carpet, the Queen Mother of the Realm presents the prince with an arbalest, a variation of a cross bow, as a gift. She reminds him of his fateful decision that he is to make at tomorrow’s ball: he has to choose a bride in true fairy tale style.
As the guests arrive for the ball, each dancer demonstrated the diverse talent of the cast, bringing a different personality to routine protocols.
The ballroom scene was transformed as the prince strolled by the lake during the course of his celebration. Using his arbalest, the prince had set out to shoot a swan until one had turned into a human; the swan queen, Odette.
The prince and swan queen performed a pas de deux, which is a ballet duet, before the swans. Complementing each other’s talent beautifully, the swan queen informs the prince that they are under the mercy of sorcerer Rotbart.
The dance itself was beautiful, demonstrating the love between the two characters just meeting for the first time. The passion between the two talented dancers foreshadowed a romantic connection that would be carried through the production.
True love, Odette explains, is the only remedy that will lift the curse and free the flight of swans. Until the curse is lifted, Odette and the others, will be forced to endure each day as animals, instead of living in their human forms.
Act II opens back at the ball with a collage of princesses from which the prince must a choose a wife.
Each candidate for marriage performs a different style of dance to the overall performance, representing royal families from Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy and Poland. The personality of each princess is on full display.
A trumpet blast interrupts the celebration as fog fills the stage and the lights dim.
There is a sense of amazement from the beauty of the incoming guests, but suspicion of their intentions foreshadowed by the scenery and music.
Rotbart, the sorcerer who cursed the prince’s true love and her swans, enters the palace with a woman that looks strikingly like Odette. Intense and sharp music blares while the prince struggles to discover whether he is dancing with his true love or with an imposter.
Dressed in a beautiful, but seemingly evil, black ballet costume, Odylle captivated the audience with her presence. Her beauty had the same effect on the prince.
Visions of the lake appear in his mind, as the audience watches the white swans try to enter the palace and prevent the prince from marrying the fraudulent Odylle, instead of his true love Odette.
On the edge of their seats, viewers hold the breath as the prince begins to remember his true love, but is repeatedly distracted by Odylle. Toward the back of the stage, sorcerer Rotbart uses his strength to lock out the white swans from gaining entrance.
The audience stands witness as the prince is eventually tricked into promising his love to Odette’s imposter.
Realizing his mistake, the prince rushes to Odette’s side by the lake before the curse becomes permanent.
In suspicious dim lighting, the sorcerer raises a raging storm that is accompanied with music that foreshadows battle. The audience watches as Rotbart tries to prevent the prince from reuniting with Odette.
Once again, the audience is witness to the intense spectacle of the one-on-one battle between the prince and Rotbart while the prince fights to contact Odette.
Love prevails, however, as the Prince overcomes all obstacles to be united with his soulmate. As the spell is broken, the audience applauds the beautiful work of the entire cast.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre was founded in Moscow during the transitional period of Perestroika in the late 1980s.
The company, then called Society national Ballet, was made of some top dancers from great Russian choreographic schools throughout Moscow, St. Petersberg and Perm. Many of the original dancers remain with the company today.
Elena Radchenko, legendary Bolshoi principal dancer, was selected by presidential decree to assume the first permanent artistic directorship of the organization in 1994. Her work continues to amaze audiences throughout the world, as demonstrated at Citrus College.