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Crazy about Ballet (Swan Lake)

20140202-095238.jpgIn a world constantly inundated with words, words, words, it is sheer bliss to find a place where everyone must turn their cell phones off, sit quietly in the dark, and experience a story unfolding in music and dance.

After marvelling at the classic technical perfection of the Kirov Ballet’s Swan Lake, I thought I should never see it again. But I was intrigued by the idea of James Kudelka’s choreography, which promised to be “ingenious…and add dark psychological complexity” to this 139-year-old ballet based on a German folk tale.

Program notes were not necessary in this production. Costume designer Santo Loquasto contrasted the brown and green velvets of the real world with the ethereal white swans, whose tutus perfectly evoked the look and loft of feathers. Tchaikovsky’s thrilling score, combined with the incredible grace of Greta Hodgkinson and strength of Guillaume Côté, plus twenty swans in Act II, created many electric moments. At one point of dramatic emotion, my scalp was tingling!

Our seats in the upper balcony attracted a motley crew: a well-dressed couple speaking Russian quietly, three guys in track suits who looked like they dropped in directly from a railway waiting room in Central Asia, a young Brazilian dancer seeing her first full-length professional ballet, and three girls on a night out, one of whom proclaimed “Ridiculous!” at the objectification of Siegfried’s potential brides in Act III. She was surely pleased with the twist at the end of this production!

Because there are no recording devices allowed, it was two hours of ephemeral beauty for that audience only. I can only hope to experience the National Ballet of Canada‘s Swan Lake again.

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