I saw the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Swan Lake today. It was so beautiful! Of course, Tchaikovsky’s sweeping music carries the audience and dancers to the tragic conclusion, but the setting of this production was quite different. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon inserted the story into various Edgar Degas paintings of ballet masters and dancers and the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Folies Bergères cancan girls. It was like Impressionism come to life.
The story of Swan Lake involves un coup de foudre (uhn coo duh foodruh). This literally means “a thunderbolt” and it’s used to describe love at first sight. Prince Siegfried meets a beautiful woman, Odette, who has been turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. She can only live as a woman between midnight and dawn. In the best fairy tale tradition, only true love can free her. The evil sorcerer tricks the prince into pledging his love to the Black Swan, Odile, sealing the fate of Odette to remain a swan forever. The sorcerer is punished for his wickedness, but the lovers are tragically separated forever. It’s sort of Romeo and Juliet with birds. If you are in the Philadelphia area, the production will run until March 12. I highly recommend it to you.