NO UGLY DUCKLINGS ALLOWED ALABAMA BALLET – SWAN LAKE
Who would know better than Russians in winter that love has a dark side, too, though danced by rosy-cheeked valentines. Even the hard truth is beauty at the ballet, especially Swan Lake.
Score by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, composed 1875-76, first performed March 4, 1877 by the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Synopsis:
In the story, based loosely on Russian and German folk tales, Odette is an enchanted princess under a spell of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart; she has been transformed into a swan by day and can only regain her human form at night. The only way for the spell to be broken is by the power of eternal love between Odette and a young man who will remain faithful to her, for if the vow of eternal love is broken, she will remain a swan forever.
Prince Siegfried, resisting his mother’s insistence he choose a bride, goes instead on a hunting expedition deep in the forest and spots a beautiful swan wearing a crown swimming towards the lakeside and prepares to shoot but before he can, the swan transforms into a young woman. Stunned by the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, Siegfried vows to love Odette for eternity, promising to save her from Rothbart’s evil enchantment.
The evil Von Rothbart’s daughter Odile is danced by the same ballerina as Odette; this explains how that country girl Odile is able to trick Prince Siegfried into being unfaithful to Odette when Odile waits for him in disguise at the Royal Ball and gets him to pledge his eternal love to her instead.
Well, as you may guess from this tragic set-up combined with treachery, Odette and Siegfried are only united in love together at death in heaven.
Some of what the three lead dancers said about dancing the Peter Sellers-like role of Odette/Odile:
Samantha Galler: I have wanted to learn and perform this role since I was little because my goal is to prove to myself that I can attack the steps as a creature, like the swan would, and turn myself from delicate to dark. When I listen to the music for both Odette and Odile I find myself falling in love with both characters because they each have so much to give.
Jennifer Ferrigno: If you think of singers, they are usually pinpointed as a soprano or an alto. Each singer has their individual strength. It’s the same with dancers. They usually are either fiery and pyrotechnic or controlled and delicate. In this ballet the dancer must be both.
Chinatsu Owada: For me, because they are half bird and half princess, it is very hard to imagine how they feel and how they act. It takes more energy than usual to try to make my body move like a bird and dance at the same time.
So if you love Dr. Strangelove and Lolita (the original with James Mason as Humbert Humbert and Shelley Winters as Lolita’s mother—and, of course, Peter Sellers as the diabolical Clare Quilty and his phoney doppelganger Dr. Zempf), you will love Swan Lake, except the dancing is better and the dancers are prettier.
The Alabama Ballet began in 1981 as an outgrowth of the Birmingham Civic Ballet, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Ballet and Ballet Alabama.
Artistic Director Tracey Alvey was trained at the Royal Academy of Dance and later became a principal dancer with London City Ballet.
Associate Artistic Director Roger Van Fleteren also joined the Alabama Ballet from the London City Ballet where he and Alvey were frequent dance partners. Van Fleteren also danced with the American Ballet Theatre as Soloist.
Swan Lake performances:
School Matinee: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 10:00 a.m. Friday, February 24, 2012 - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 2:30 p.m. Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 2:30 p.m.
Wright Center, Samford University 430, $45. $55.