June 14, 1991 |
With Swan Lake, the Pennsylvania Ballet ends its roller-coaster season on a note of calm, as Odette and Prince Siegfried glide through the waters toward eternal bliss, wafted along by Tchaikovsky's sublime music. Of course, the lovers have to transcend three hours of emotional turbulence to reach their state of Nirvana, which is one reason the ballet packs such a wallop and is the most popular ballet of all time. Of all the Russian classics, Swan Lake is the most dramatically exciting.
July 11, 1991 |
How good can Swan Lake be when the weakest link is the Swan Queen? The answer provided by the Royal Ballet on Monday at the Metropolitan Opera, the opening night of the company's two-week run there, is equivocal. The ballet can be much better than one would assume, and yet . . . It was a performance that sparked in bits and pieces, sometimes in unexpected and novel ways. At times the dramatic concept, worked out by artistic director Anthony Dowell and Tchaikovsky scholar Roland John Wiley, was more gripping than the dancing.
May 2, 1988 |
Yugoslavia's Zagreb Grand Ballet, which over the weekend opened the 1988 Hollybush Festival in Glassboro, is a throwback to an era Americans could know only through picture books. These books show Soviet dance stars of the 1920s and '30s striking bold, glamorous poses with a technique that today would dismay a ballet teacher in the smallest New Jersey town. Today, no dancer is as oblivious to the ABCs of technique - pointed feet, turned-out legs - as the early Soviet stars were.
July 6, 2007 |
London's famed Royal Ballet is back, this time at the Mann. It has been 31 years since their last Academy of Music appearance here in 1976, coincidentally the same year the Mann Music Center opened in West Fairmount Park. Many may remember the final, spellbinding performance of "Swan Lake" in that visit, with Monica Mason dancing the role of Odette. She's now the company's director, and she's bringing in the Royal for two grand, spectacle ballets: Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake.
March 8, 2015 |
When a sensational dancer first steps onstage, it's as exciting for me as for an astronomer discovering a nova. Zachary Hench gave such a moment when he flashed his star quality stepping out as Prince Siegfried in Christopher Wheeldon's production of Swan Lake in 2004. Newly commissioned by Pennsylvania Ballet, it was a million-dollar gamble I hope has paid off in real money as much as it does in artistic quality and innovation. I reviewed that premiere, but looking back on it, I did not fully appreciate its value.
June 24, 1992 |
Tchaikovsky's music for the last scene of Swan Lake is so graphically descriptive of spiritual crisis and bittersweet resolution that you'd think it impossible that a choreographer would tinker with the original libretto. Not so. Choreographers in the former Soviet Union, for instance, did not hesitate to alter the conclusion that has Odette and Prince Siegfried ending their lives by plunging into a lake, thereby vanquishing von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer, and gliding into eternal bliss in an underwater heaven.
August 10, 2005 |
When Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Roy Kaiser introduced Christopher Wheeldon at a news conference in 2003, it was to talk about how the red-hot British choreographer would reenvision Swan Lake. Wheeldon, then 30 years old, said that he wouldn't be making huge changes in the classically minted 1895 choreography by Russian masters Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. A year later, his new Swan Lake premiered in Philadelphia as the finale to Penn Ballet's 40th season, under the scrutiny of more than 100 dance writers who happened to be here for a national critics convention.
June 10, 1988 |
The best Swan Lakes are the ones that hold no surprises. The Pennsylvania and Milwaukee Ballet's local premiere of its full-length production simply lets the ballet roll under the spell of Tchaikovsky's great score, and in so doing fully explains why Swan Lake is the most popular ballet of all time. Everything about the production coalesces, from Jose Varona's traditionally conceived sets to some new choreography by Robert Weiss and Richard Tanner. The dancers perform the entire four acts as if they had been doing them for years - although in fact, this complete Swan Lake, which opened Wednesday night at the Academy of Music for a two-week run, is a first for the combined troupe.
September 13, 1987 |
A company both old and new will be the prime focus of the 1987-88 Philadelphia dance season. On Wednesday, the 24-year-old Pennsylvania Ballet will give its first performance as the Pennsylvania and Milwaukee Ballet, the result of its merger last spring with the Milwaukee Ballet. In addition to having a longer name, the troupe is also larger (41 dancers, compared with 26) and has a repertory reflective of its bigger size. Thus Giselle and Swan Lake, two classics requiring a large ensemble, will be presented in April and June, respectively, marking the first time that Philadelphians will see their home troupe perform them.
September 18, 1989 |
Lisa Sundstrom, the Pennsylvania Ballet's junior principal dancer, moved to the head of the class Friday night with an exquisitely rendered Swan Queen in Swan Lake, which plays at the Academy of Music through tonight. Compared with Sundstrom's debut in this watershed role 18 months ago, this one was a paradigm of artistic growth. On any terms, though, it was plain splendid. Of fragile bearing, Sundstrom turned this quality into profound vulnerability, which made her swan as womanly as it was birdlike.