Good versus evil—driven by love and sorcery—is the heart of the famous ballet Swan Lake. And one of America’s most highly-regarded ballet companies, Houston Ballet, returns to Northrop to perform this sumptuous version Apr 7-8.
Here are some fact facts about the ballet, the company and the version Northrop fans will see.
Swan Lake is often considered the “epitome of classical ballets.” The ballet originally premiered in 1877 in Moscow, Russia, and has been adapted many times since.
The roles of the White Swan and Black Swan are typically played by the same ballerina, with the characters distinguished by their dance styles. Odette, the White Swan, is fragile, elegant and pure and represents perfection. Odile, the Black Swan is sharp, confident and mean-spirited and represents emotion.
Houston Ballet started off as a dance school in 1955 and became a professional company in 1969. Ben Stevenson, OBE became the Artistic Director in 1976 and remained the artistic director until 2003, when Stanton Welch AM took over the role.
The Houston Ballet has been performing Swan Lake since 1977, when it premiered the show at Jones Hall in Houston.
Welch reworked the original Swan Lake choreography in 2006 to give it a 21st-century pace. His work adds a third persona to the White Swan/Black Swan character: Odette as a maiden, before a curse condemned her to live as swan.
Welch’s Swan Lake set and costume designer, the late Kristian Fredrikson, drew from Pre-Raphaelite art and includes a dragon motif throughout the story to instill more magic and mysticism into the sorcerer's story.
A Houston Press review of Swan Lake declares, “The fairy world of Welch's Swan Lake is filled with mystery, intrigue, and an adult sense of whimsy that feels both magical and mature.”
This performance features the original score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by local musicians.
After the movie Black Swan premiered, demand for Swan Lake ballet performances skyrocketed. Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, took an in-depth look at what it takes to play a character such as the Black Swan, and how truly committing to a character as dark as Odile can affect a dancer’s mental state.