In Review: 'Swan Lake'

aimee suzanne kruse-ross | dec. 2017

The Russian Grand Ballet made a stop in Green Bay during their US tour on November 15. Hosted by the Weidner Center, the ballet troupe presented one of the world's most famous ballets — Tchaikovsky's “Swan Lake." This full-length classical production featured the rarely seen “Waltz of the Black Swans," and marked the first time the Russian Grand Ballet has ever performed in Green Bay.

Written more than 100 years ago, “Swan Lake" featured award-winning ballet master Andrey Litvinov and together with the leadership of Constantine Pinchuk, they directed a troupe of more than 50 dancers from Russia and the Ukraine, all trained in the history and discipline of classical Russian ballet. Together, they highlighted the glorious score with gravity-defying choreography for an unforgettable evening.

“Swan Lake" is based on Russian folklore and German legend and follows the heroic young Prince Siegfried as he works to free the beautiful swan maiden, Odette, from an evil spell. Only the prince's devotion can save her. “Swan Lake" combines romanticism and tragedy in a magical tale of love and deception.

Before the opening act, classical music was played, and although the company did not bring an orchestra, the musical track was so clean and crisp that this author had to look several times to be sure the orchestra pit was indeed empty.

After first curtain, the lush and opulent scenery of a Russian palace immediately greeted the audience. Classical dancer laureate Evgeniy Svetlitsa danced the part of Prince Siegfried as he celebrates his 16th birthday in his mother's court. Svetlitsa danced with beautiful balletic footwork and performed difficult steps with refined style. As the story moved along, dancers in opulent costumes filled the stage with all the beauty and grace that audiences of the ballet have come to know.

The court Jester character, as danced by Vladislav Zhurov, was a crowd favorite and performed noteworthy ballet solos. His “Spanish Dance" displayed energetic and powerful athleticism. After each appearance, Zhurov received a loud, rousing applause from the more than 1,300 audience members in attendance.

Later, alongside breathtaking views of Swan Lake, we met the character Odette, as danced by Olga Kifyak. A graduate of the Ukrainian Academy of Dance in Kiev, Kifyak held the audience's attention throughout the score, moving the tragic story along with her incredible footwork and graceful arm sweeps. Kifyak's small frame disguised a powerful repertoire that included standing on tiptoe for minutes at a time.

The character of the evil sorcerer, Rothbart, was performed by Dmitry Vasilev and the sorcerer's daughter, Odile, was danced by Alisa Voronova. Their dance “Waltz of the Black Swans" highlighted the best in physical forms of grace and beauty. The duo performed numerous difficult routines and the conclusion of this rare dance was met with considerable applause.

The ballet was performed in its entirety and, although a bit lengthy, with four intermissions, its conclusion brought the crowd — comprised of many area youth dancers — to its feet as they delivered a standing ovation lasting several minutes.

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