“Swan Lake” performance by Russian National Ballet Theatre

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Fiona Scruggs


The audience was astounded at the Swan Lake performance by the Russian National Ballet Theatre on Monday, March 20 in Preston Hall. Swan Lake is a four-act ballet, which, according to the program notes, was choreographed by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Yuri Grigorovich. This rendition of the ballet was restaged by Elena Radchenko and an assistant Alexander Daev. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. According to the program, the Russian National Ballet Theatre is from Moscow, Russia and is a Columbia Artists Production. The performance was presented by the Radford University Performance Series.

As soon as the curtains rose after the musical overture, the audience bore witness to The Garden of Prince Siegfried’s Castle, which was the title of Act I. The scenery was set with a lake in the background and a full moon in the distance. Each dancers costuming was decorative and elaborate, which followed throughout the rest of the ballet. The atmosphere was certainly regal. After all, it was set at a castle. The jester entered and performed fantastic jumps and turns during each of his solo moments. According to the performance and the program notes, while at the castle, guests are celebrating that “Prince Siegfried has come of age.” However, according to the program notes, he is reminded by “the Queen Mother of the Realm” that he is obliged to find a bride “at tomorrow’s ball.” Through the pantomime and artistic expression of the dancers, with further detail provided in the program notes, the story had begun. While at the castle, there was a lovely ballroom-style waltz scene. When the dancers turned, the tulle skirts flowed elegantly. According to the program notes, at the end of Act I, Prince Siegfried followed “a flight of white swans heading toward the nearby lake.”

This lead into Act II, which was titled A Lakeside. Von Rothbart, who was a “wicked sorcerer” appeared. Next, Odette, a swan, entered upstage and shortly thereafter, exited. Odette then performed a gorgeous solo variation before dancing together with Prince Siegfried. Von Rothbart appeared again before the corps de ballet of swans entered the stage. The swans created beautiful line formations. When they changed and performed dance steps, there were in absolute synchronization. Odette and Prince Siegfried danced an exquisite pas de deux (a dance of two people). There was a moment when Odette leaned backward, but Prince Siegfried caught her, which was beautiful. A wonderful and impressive lift occurred when Prince Siegfried lifted Odette over his shoulder while Odette created a turning motion in the air.

The Cygnets (swans) danced a pas de quatre (a dance of four people), which included petit allégro (quick movements, particularly small jumps). While executing technical entrechat quatres and échappés, the four swans were all in perfect unity while holding hands. The corps de ballet of swans danced again. At the end of Act II, Odette dropped a feather and left the stage. Prince Siegfried happened to see it and picked it up. Von Rothbart entered the stage and Act II concluded.

After the intermission, Act III, The Great Hall of Prince Siegfried’s Castle, began. According to the program notes and the performance, “Princesses from Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy, and Poland are presented to the Prince.” When each princess danced, she had a group of fellow ballerinas dancing with her. The princess from Russia wore an elaborate headdress. Every dancer in this piece also had a handkerchief as a prop. Another piece involved the dancers using tambourines as props. All of the princesses who had danced so far came onstage and the queen asked them to dance with Prince Siegfried. Then Odylle entered with Von Rothbart, but Prince Siegfried thought it was actually Odette. The Spanish dance, which came next, had an air of dramatic flair. Odylle and Prince Siegfried danced a fantastic pas de deux with each other. The lighting then changed and Odette entered from the upstage corner and Von Rothbart tried to send her away. Prince Siegfried and Odylle each performed their solo variations. In Odylle’s variation, she performed numerous fouetté turns, which was amazing to watch. Prince Siegfried gave Odylle flowers and Odette appeared upstage again.

During Act IV, The Lakeside, Odette danced with a corps de ballet behind her. Von Rothbart and Prince Siegfried danced together before Odette and Prince Siegfried reunited. It was a lovely moment when the corps de ballet did bourrées in place. Odette then leaned in to kiss Prince Siegfried before the curtain closed.

It was an absolutely beautiful and exciting performance of Swan Lake by the exquisite Russian National Ballet Theatre.