Yesterday I was browsing through different TV channels before stumbling upon Black Swan, one of my favorite movies. While watching Natalie Portman’s stunning performance, I wondered why the Swan Lake ballet is so influential. In the world of ballet, Swan Lake is the ‘it’ show; its story is impactful that we see new movie and book adaptations of it every year. So what differentiates this particular ballet performance among the rest?
I took out my phone and started watching it, researching the origins until I finally connected the dots. But before I tell you, let me first give you a brief in case you don’t know the story.
Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake was first performed in 1875-1876, . Although it’s unclear who wrote the storyline, it’s believed to have been based on German and Russian folklore.
Set in Germany, the ballet tells the story of Princess Odette (the White Swan), who gets turned into a swan along her with her friends by sorcerer Baron Von Rothbart. Odette can only be freed of her curse if the Prince declares his love for her, which he does. During their second meeting, however, Rothbart’s daughter Odile (the Black Swan) disguises herself as Odette and makes the Prince pledge his love for her. Eventually, the Prince finds out the truth and goes back to Odette. The ending differs depending on the various versions of the ballet.
The prince and the black swan image from los angeles times
Getting back to the original question: what makes it so great? The answer is simple: it’s everything! From the renowned music and the dramatic story to the stunning choreography, everything about this ballet is simply awesome.
The captivating music is considered one of Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces. The iconic melody is so catchy that it quickly became famous by itself. Furthermore, the plot twist with the female doppelganger is epic. The magic, the curse, the man caught between two women; all this makes for an incredibly dramatic storyline.
As for the choreography, which was done by Julius Reisinger, it’s said that a ballerina reaches perfection when she plays the swan queen. It’s considered one of the hardest ballets ever and takes years of training to perfect. you can take a glimpse here
Despite all this, the ballet was not successful when it was first performed by the Bolshoi in Russia. More than 140 years later, however, the majestic performance remains timeless.