By Daniel Mendoza
Swan Lake is a tale as old as time. With one of the most well known scores, it has acted as the quintessential test for dancers when it comes to dramatic and technical skill. Although, as with all classics, it falls in danger of becoming predictable, that’s not the case with the returning The Joffrey Ballet’s Swan Lake, choreographed by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.
Swan Lake is the story of a young Prince, Siegfried, who is forced to choose a bride by his mother, the queen. When he refuses, he runs away to the forest for an evening hunt where he meets the enchanted swan maiden, Odette. They fall in love, but Siegfried is tricked by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart to believe that Rothbart’s daughter Odile is Odette, leaving Odette cursed to stay a swan forever.
While Wheeldon’s version does stick to this premise, the opening scene doesn’t transport the patrons to an enchanted world of princes and forests. Instead, it begins in a dance studio where a troupe is rehearsing their production of Swan Lake. Instead of the young Prince Siegfried, there is the Lead Man, and rather than the sorcerer, Von Rothbart, there is a mysterious patron lurking around the studio.
By far the most interesting part of this twist on the classic tale is that the production does such a flawless transition of the “reality” and fantasy world that it leaves the audience in a state of wonder.
For fans of the more classic take on Tchaikovsky’s 1895 Ballet, the iconic Act 2 – or White Act in which Siegfried first meets the lovely swan maiden – the performance remains intact. This point also gives the dancers a chance to display their technical abilities, for example, from the dual role of the swan maiden Odette, and the black swan Odile, who performs 32 fouette turns in her final variation.
Wheeldon’s Swan Lake takes some of the traditional aspects of the original ballet and mixes in some of the new. His risks create a performance that is enjoyable to audiences whether it’s someone’s thousandth or first time experiencing the ballet.
More About Swan Lake and Joffrey Ballet
“Art intertwines with life in Wheeldon’s modern re-telling of one of the most famous ballets of all time. Set in the studios of the Paris Opera Ballet, a company dancer falls in love with his beautiful partner, a star ballerina who is being pursued by an arts patron with bad intentions. A ballet-within-a-ballet, Wheeldon’s version combines classical elements with a touch of fantasy, as lavish sets and breathtaking choreography take hold in this timeless story danced to Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score. (Production Sponsor – Sage Foundation)
The Joffrey is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertoire encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works. The Joffrey is committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.”
Upcoming Performances – Joffrey Ballet
Upcoming Meet the Artists Dates
Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Across the Pond
Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 6:30 PM