The Evergreen City Ballet is presenting “Swan Lake” this weekend that should leave audiences saddened or uplifted over the fate of the two lovers at the heart of the ballet.
Different ballet companies have chosen different paths to tell the story’s ending.
When asked what path he chose, Evergreen City Ballet’s new artistic director, Kevin Kaiser, demurred.
“I don’t know if I should tell you that,” he said. “That is sort of like giving the end of the movie away.”
Is he a romantic or a realist? “I am a romantic,” he answered. But, that’s not the point, either.
What’s important, he said, is that the members of the audience go away, having created their own feelings about the smitten Prince Siegfried and the cursed Princess Odette, who at night transforms from swan to woman.
Tchaikovsky’s famed ballet is set in Europe. Prince Siegfried is under some pressure. It’s his birthday banquet and he’s supposed to announce his choice for a bride. Love doesn’t come into play in his decision.
Upset, he heads into the forest with his crossbow. He comes across a flock of swans and readies to fire. Then, he sees Odette. They dance and he falls hard. He learns that the evil sorcerer, von Rothbart, has used his magic to turn her into this swan-woman.
Siegfried figures he’ll solve everything by killing von Rothbart. But, if von Rothbart dies before the spell is broken, Odette will never take human form again.
Siegfried returns to the castle, where von Rothbart has turned his own daughter, Odile, into the perfect likeness of Odette. Only Odile is dressed in black. Thinking Odile is Odette, Siegfried tells all his intent to marry her. Too late, he discovers the truth.
This is where endings have differed. In one version, Siegfried and Odette drown themselves in the lake. As a result, von Rothbart loses his power and dies. In another ending, Odette remains a swan, leaving Siegfried bereft. And in another the love shared by Siegfried and Odette defeats von Rothbart and they live together happily as man and woman.
The Evergreen City Ballet will present this story of true love this weekend at the IKEA Performing Arts Center at Renton High School.
Audiences, Kaiser said, “are going to see a very high level of performance.”
The corps will dance to live music performed by the Evergreen City Ballet Orchestra, under the direction of Barney Blough, which features many local musicians.
It’s a “wonderful opportunity” for the dancers to dance to live music, Kaiser said.
Prince Siegfried is danced by Joel Myers, who attended the Evergreen City Ballet School, and as a professional, now dances for the Spectrum Dance Theater.
Rachel Smith and Erika Klein will dance as Odette during different performances. They also attended the school and are now part of the Evergreen City Ballet Company.
Jerome Tso and Daniel Wilkins take on the role of the evil von Rothbart.
With 16 swans dancing all at once, the production calls for a high degree of precision, Kaiser said.
He said he believe the audiences will be impressed with the level of performance achieved by his dancers, who range in age from 14 to 22.
The costumes are done by volunteers, mostly by parents. Many have taken classes in order to make professional-quality tutus. A volunteer also is making the cape that von Rothbart wears.
Dean A. Radford can be reached at 425-255-3484, ext. 5050, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.