The Richmond Ballet is set to perform Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, Swan Lake, this coming weekend at the Carpenter Theatre. The production, considered the exemplar for classical ballet, is one that dates back over a hundred years. Richmond Ballet is fortunate to have close choreographic ties the of the famous 1895 performance, which has been passed down to the company through a connection to the legendary Marius Petipa, a famous 19th century classical ballet choreographer who worked closely with Tchaikovsky.
Swan Lake tells the story of the princess Odette, who, due to unfortunate circumstances, finds herself in the body of a swan. It is a classic tale of good versus evil and the meaning of eternal love. The Russian ballet, which has been in production ever since it’s first performance in 1877, remains a staple of classical-style ballet; a style known for it’s stringent movement and flowing, dreamlike choreography.
“You’re sort of upholding a legacy every time you dance Swan Lake,” says Maggie Small, a Richmond Ballet dancer who has been with the company for seven years. “It’s maintaining a standard that’s been set for hundreds of years, but trying to keep it current enough that audiences are interested in it,” she said.
Small, who has been dancing since the age of three, says that Swan Lake is special in that its choreography doesn’t differ much from the centuries old source. “It’s mainly original, each dancer sometimes might change some of the steps, but there’s really not a lot of changes,” she said.
The only thing that really changes, according to Small, is the stage setup. “ It’s small changes like where we set things and how we move around them that keeps things fresh for us.”
The ballet also features two special guest performers from the Queensland Ballet, performing as the Swan Queen and the Prince on two of the show’s four nights. On the other two nights, Richmond Ballet’s Shira Lanya and Thomas Garrett will play the parts, respectively. With music provided by the Richmond Symphony and sets and costumes from the San Francisco Ballet, the performance will be something completely new for Richmond.
Swan Lake is playing at the Richmond Ballet’s Carpenter Theater February 8 – 10. Tickets are available here. More info for the show is available here.