Mesmerized by the Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake

“My favourite she-dies-he-lives [production of Swan Lake] is that of The Australian Ballet … This version, choreographed by Graeme Murphy, will be performed by the Australian company in New York, at the David H. Koch Theater, next June. I’ll be there.” Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

When I was offered a pair of tickets to experience The Australian Ballet’s “Swan Lake”, I didn’t hesitate.  A big fan of ballet and of this one, in particular, and a huge Lincoln Center goer, it definitely caught my interest. And as my husband reminded me on our way to the theater last night, we rarely go to the ballet, as I am very fixated on NYC theater.  He’s 100% right, and I want to expand my knowledge and repertoire of evenings out.  This was a great start.

As we walked toward the David Koch Theater, passing by the beautiful dancing fountain, the Metropolitan Opera House which I used to visit more frequently (I now vow to go to more opera often, as well), Alice Tully Hall, the Film Society and hundreds of other people about to partake in an evening of culture, not only did my internal excitement build, but I remembered what a wonderful place Lincoln Center is and how rich it has made my own life and so many others.  Anyway, I knew I was in for a special night, but I had no idea how special.

You probably know the story of “Swan Lake”, either because you’ve seen it or you remember Natalie Portman’s vivid portrayal of a ballerina who loses her mind in the film “Black Swan” just out only a few years ago.  Now I realize what even more of a genius Darren Aronovsky was for adapting that script from the ballet.  Or else you are familiar with the score by Tchaikovsky.  It’s haunting, dazzling chords stay in your mind forever.

The Australian Ballet

The story of “Swan Lake” is about a love triangle – Odette, a beautiful young girl who discovers on the day of her wedding that her handsome prince, Siegfried, is in love with a Baroness.  Her nemesis is married with children, but that does not appear to hold her back from loving her suitor and stealing him out from under Odette.  Odette is pushed into a sanatorium where she dreams vividly about her lost love and finds escape in a frozen dream where swan-like maidens, much like herself, keep her calm.  Her downfall is so heart-breaking, it pulled on my heart strings.  The three hours it took to tell the story felt like only minutes to me.

This production is so breath-taking and beautifully choreographed that my husband and I were both memorized from start to finish.  It has traveled to Paris, London, Tokyo and Shanghai under the direction of Graeme Murphy and was more than ready for a debut in NYC.

The Australian Ballet has so beautifully woven together this tragic tale through its lush costumes, set and score. It has won numerous major awards (including the UK Critics’ Circle award for Best Foreign Dance Company) and sold out theatres around the world.   At our performance, the leads were played by Madeleine Eastoe, Kevin Jackson and Lucinda Dunn.  They were each exquisite and it was clear the rest of the audience agreed with me on their brilliant dancing.  We clapped and clapped and clapped and gave them many an encore which they relished and deserved.

Find out what makes this Swan Lake so special when you get a chance.

Disclosure: My tickets were complimentary to facilitate this review but all opinions are my own.