Swan Lake is one of the most famous ballets in history. If you feel like getting a little culture and doing something different on a night out, why not check to see what local ballet companies near you are performing this weekend? Swan Lake is popular across the nation (and the world), so chances are you’ll find it in a city near you sometime during the year. But what exactly is this ballet all about? What’s the storyline of Swan Lake and why might you want to go see it? Here’s a breakdown of pretty much everything you need to know about Swan Lake.
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The History of Swan Lake
Like The Nutcracker, Swan Lake is a Russian Ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. It first premiered in Moscow at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1877, though it wasn’t incredibly well-received until around 20 years later when changes were made to the staging. The most popular choreography among ballet companies remains that of Marius Petipa and Lev Icanov. They reworked the production for the 1895 revival of Swan Lake, originally performed in St. Petersburg.
Since then, this classical ballet that has been popular among audiences all over the world for over 100 years. It first premiered in the United States in 1940 when the San Francisco Ballet performed it. Today’s versions of Swan Lake features beautiful costumes, choreography, and dancers, as well as a wonderfully moving story.
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The Storyline of Swan Lake
Swan Lake is actually a mix of Russian and German folk tales that translates to a love story filled with romance, drama, and tragedy on the stage. It tells the story of a princess named Odette who is turned into a swan by an evil sorceror. There are multiple theories on where the story originated, but no one knows who originally came up with the idea for Swan Lake. Today, different ballet companies perform different variations on the classic tale.
Traditionally, the story opens with Prince Siegfried at the Royal Court as he gets ready to celebrate his 21st birthday. Told by his parents that he must choose a bride at the upcoming ball, he is upset that he can’t marry for love. He then gathers his friends and takes his bow to go hunting at the lake… Swan Lake. Once there, he sees many swans, but before he can take aim to shoot any of them, one becomes a beautiful woman. It is, of course, Princess Odette (also known as the Swan Queen), and he falls in love. The Prince then learns how she was turned into a swan by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. She is doomed to live by daylight in the body of a swan, a spell which can only be broken if a man who is pure in heart confesses his love to her. We won’t spoil the ending – and there are a few different versions of how this story ends, both happy and sad! – but is a beautiful yet tragic love story told through dance.
Loch na HEala
As you browse tickets to Swan Lake, you may also come across something called Loch Na Heala. This is a modern adaptation of Swan Lake by the Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan. This contemporary production premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival and has since spanned the world with its Nordic- and Celtic-influenced score and themes of magical realism. In this version, the unemployed, 30-something prince is suicidal, and the set is a harsh mix of steel, concrete, and black plastic.
Keep in mind that this large-scale ballet production is for more mature audiences as it contains references to suicide as well as violence and gun shots. Still it’s a beautifully dark and modern take on this classic ballet, and it comes highly recommended!
Shop Cheap Tickets to See Swan Lake! Go see this classic ballet all across the nation!