Swan Lake - Romantic Ballet

Topics: Swan Lake, Ballet, The Nutcracker Pages: 7 (2817 words) Published: April 4, 2007

‘Swan Lake' was re-choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in1895, after initially being choreographed by Julius Reisinger in 1877. The musical score was composed by Pytor Tchaikovsky. ‘Swan Lake' was created towards the end of the romantic period, so the culture and style of romanticism was prominent, with glimpses of the beginning of the classical era. Because of this, it contains elements of both eras. Some of the romantic characteristics include the pursuit of the unattainable, romance, fantasy, focus on the female role, gas lighting and simple sets, pointe work, soft and feminine technique for females and the bell tutu. Some of the classical features include the length of the ballet, the classical tutu and more advanced technique for both males and females. ‘Swan Lake' was first performed in 1877 at the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow, by the Imperial Bolshoi Ballet. ‘Swan Lake' was choreographed originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger, and later re-choreographed more successfully by Marius Petipa an admired and well known choreographer. The Petipa and Ivanov version is the one we still see today. The score was written by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a composer who often worked closely with Petipa. During the romantic period, a rapid development in society had occurred. Scientific advances lead to a rise in education, huge interest in poetry the arts, particularly the opera and the ballet, and a rebellion against traditionalism. The romantic era took risks, and tested society in what is acceptable, by raising issues such feminism, religion, and breaking free from the conformity that had been around for years. When ‘Swan Lake' was first performed, it wasn't a success, but not, as some critics said, a failure. The first production of ‘Swan Lake' was performed 41 times with 3 productions over 6 years. This was well above norm of a new ballet. During this first production, it's claimed that the music was far too advanced and complex for this ballet, and the conductor and orchestra did not meet the need of the perspicacious score. The choreography by Julius Reisinger was also considered disjointed and tedious to watch. A critic wrote "Mr. Reisinger's dances are weak in the extreme.... Incoherent waving of the legs that continued through the course of four hours - is this not torture? The corps de ballet stamp up and down in the same place, waving their arms like a windmill's vanes - and the soloists jump about the stage in gymnastic steps." Critics also said that the designs were disjointed as three designers were working on the production, and they worked separately, without discussing their ideas to each other. Anna Sobeshchanskaya, prima Ballerina at the time, did not play role of Odette until the fifth performance, due to political reasons. The governor general of Moscow had given jewels to her, and despite that she went and married a dancer. This offended the Governor General, so the company used Pelagia Mikhailovna Karpakova, a less talented dance to play the lead dual role. Marius Petipa had seen potential in ‘Swan Lake' and took on the challenge of re-choreographing with Lev Ivanov in the other Russian imperial theatre in St. Petersburg, the Marinsky Theatre. This proved far more successful, and because it was produced in 1895, at the beginning of the era in which classical ballets such as the ‘Nutcracker' and ‘Sleeping Beauty' were produced. The elements of the classical ballets were also incorporated into ‘Swan Lake' making it new and exciting for the audience. ‘Swan lake' is a story set in medieval times in Germany, about a compassionate prince who falls in love with a princess who takes the form of a swan by day, due to a spell by an evil wizard von Rothbart. Von Rothbart keeps then apart through several means, but there undying love for each other brings then together, even though their love results in death. In Act I, Prince...

Bibliography: http://www.balletmet.org/Notes/SwanHist.html
Stories of the Ballets ‘Swan Lake ' Ann Nugent Aurum Press – class handout
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