Lone Star Ballet to close season with 'Swan Lake,' 'the ultimate ballet'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
"This is the ultimate ballet, really."
That's Lone Star Ballet artistic director Vicki McLean on her company's upcoming performances of Swan Lake, a dream a decade-plus in the making.
The ballet, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875 and staged definitively by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895, will be performed by the Amarillo company at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St. Tickets are $10 to $40, plus fees. Call 806-378-3096.
"I've waited 10 years to do this," McLean said. "I've had gorgeous dancers in these last 10 to 12 years, but I have been waiting for this group of gorgeous dancers to mature both technically and emotionally, and they have. They're quite stunning. This really was the year for this."
Her dancers agree.
"Vicki was really excited to announce it last year, and everyone freaked out," said Lauren Newman, who'll dance the role of Odette, the White Swan.
In LSB's production, unlike many, the central role of the White Swan and her evil twin, Odile the Black Swan, will be performed by two dancers — Newman and fellow LSB veteran Berkley Henderson as Odile.
The split works just fine for Henderson.
"This is awesome for us," Henderson said. "I've always wanted to dance the Black Swan, and the White Swan would just be part of it, I guess. ... (In this production) I am getting the best — to do just the Black Swan, like I've always wanted."
The roles are well suited for their performers, both dancers said.
"My part is ... a little more slow, lifting the legs and holding," Newman said. "(Henderson) does a lot of jumping and is fast. They're both very difficult in their own way, but at my age (30), I prefer White. I'm not as spritely anymore."
The Black Swan "is so powerful, and White is so beautiful," Henderson agreed.
In the story, based on European folklore, Odette is a princess who is transformed into a swan by a sorcerer's curse. Prince Siegfried (danced by Christopher Flores at the Friday and Saturday evening performances and by Boyd Burch on Saturday afternoon) spots her in her human form and immediately falls in love, then witnesses her transformation "and is awestruck by it," McLean said.
The sorcerer von Rothbart (danced by Mateus Barbosa da Silva on Friday and Saturday night and Kel Martin on Saturday afternoon), who has transformed several other girls and women (21 in all in LSB's production) into swans, interferes with the blossoming romance by transforming his daughter Odile into a black doppelgänger of Odette and sending her to the prince's ball. Ultimately, Odette and Siegfried sacrifice themselves to defeat von Rothbart and return the other swans to their human forms.
"It's a wonderful story of love and romance and betrayal and sorcery," McLean said. "This is the ultimate ballet, really, the one that every ballerina really wants to do, and the one everyone has heard of."
Indeed, though Tchaikovsky's original production was a flop, the ballet has only grown in stature since the Petipa/Ivanov reworking in 1895, having been adapted to everything from Disney and Barbie productions to serving as the inspiration of Darren Aronofsky's 2010 thriller Black Swan.
"I think we've come to fall in love with the music and in falling in love with that, we've fallen in love with the romance of the story, and the ballet follows suit," McLean said.
LSB's production will follow the classic interpretation.
"I have been very respectful of Petipa and Ivanov," McLean said. "Black and White Swan are pretty close to the exact choreography. ... I've done, I think, a nice intertwining of Master Petipa and my choreography together."
Also traditional: The tutus crafted by costumer Elaine Seaton. Not as traditional: The backdrops come from a powerful laser projector, allowing seamless transformations from day to night.
"It's all going to come together for a beautiful show," McLean said. "They've all worked so hard."