It has taken nearly nineteen years to get me into ballet, but Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake managed it in a mere three hours. Performed for more than 135 years, it is still the world’s favourite ballet, and it’s not difficult to see why.
If you, like my former self, see the ballet as an orchestra concert accompanied by people prancing in (however aesthetically pleasing) overly elaborate costumes, allow a convert to inform you that you have never been more wrong in your life. Swan Lake tells the story of Prince Siegfried, who finds love in the form of Odette, following an argument with his mother who compels him to find a wife. Odette is a princess who has been turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer named Rothbart, who later sends his daughter Odile to trick the prince and keep him from Odette. The only way for Rothbart’s curse to be broken is if Odette finds a man to love and remain faithful to her, whereas unfaithfulness results in her spending the rest of her days as a swan. Following Prince Siegfried’s accidental disloyalty, Odette chooses to drown herself rather than live as a swan, and the prince does the same. The pair are reunited eternally in death.
Until I saw Swan Lake, I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me a ballet would make me laugh
The orchestral textures range from the solo oboe opening to the full ensemble accompanying the more elaborate sections, there is sure to be a piece everyone will recognise. Tchaikovsky’s Romantic style is apparent throughout, with his genius shining through every semi-quaver.
Until I saw Swan Lake, I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me a ballet would make me laugh. Especially not through the simple and trivial medium of a young girl teaching an older man to dance. But I wasn’t the only member of the audience who succumbed to this simple comedic element.
Tchaikovsky’s Romantic style is apparent throughout, with his genius shining through every semi-quaver
The stereotypical costume for a female ballerina is that of a skirt which ‘sticks out’ so as not to interfere with her legs. The Swan Lake costumes were this and more; with enough feathers to keep Benson’s for Beds in production for a year. The delicate attention to detail on Odette and the other swans’ costumes emphasize their purity and innocence, whereas Odile’s dark and sharp costume accentuates her evil character.
Swan Lake is a must-see for everyone; ballet lovers and ballet haters alike
Films like Black Swan, give the wider world an insight into the murky psychological depths of the ballet, in their attempt to dissolve beliefs about the insignificance of a company of intricately decorated dancers. The ballet is, in reality, far from a trivial enterprise, with most dancers’ days lasting from approximately 10am to 6pm. The endurance required and physical exertions exceed most other sports’ requirements, and as a result, ballet dancers are often amongst the fittest of athletes.
Swan Lake is a must-see for everyone; ballet lovers and ballet haters alike. And, at the end of the day, attending university in Nottingham means that, secretly, we must all love a man in tights.