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Swan Lake by Alberta Ballet: A review

By Jackson L. Mullins, November 2 2021—

Swan Lake, unarguably one of the most famous ballets in history, composed by Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger, performed at the Jubilee auditorium from Oct.  21 to Oct. 30, and will perform again in Edmonton from Nov. 5–7. It features the story of Prince Siegfried and Odette, inspired by both German and Russian folk tales.

It is performed in a prologue and two acts, and features a happier modified ending than the original composition. I had the absolute pleasure to watch this piece of art history performed on Oct. 23. So, with my bountiful experience of going to only two other ballets in my life, and this being the first time I have witnessed Swan Lake, I feel I am best suited to critique this masterpiece.

The performers gave an exquisite display of skill where both solo and duet dances were expertly choreographed and executed their parts expertly. Most notably Jennifer Gibson and Naoya Ebe, the performers who played Odette and Siegfried, gave an impassioned performance and displayed much chemistry on stage. “[The preformers gave] a lively and enchanting performance, filled with passion and emotion in which the performers truly functioned to the highest standard even after a long hiatus.” said University of Calgary student Yuliana Sanchez.

 Although the displays by the smaller groups and soloists were encapsulating, when larger numbers of performers took the stage together, the synchronicity in some areas began to fall apart. I cannot make too much of a fuss about this lack of synchronicity in some parts, as it was noted in the opening speech that the performers hadn’t the ability to rehearse among others for some time due to COVID-19.

Further, there were some issues present with the set transitions, that in some part took me out of the immersion of the performance — most notably, an unfortunate squeaky wheel on a set piece at the end of the prologue that could be heard being shuffled off stage behind the curtain.

But with these two very small, and largely excusable critiques aside, what was best with the performance? Of course, the best things can be blamed on Lighting Designer Renée Brode and Set and Costume Designer Peter Farmer.

The combination of enchanting set design and carefully considered lighting drew my eye to each graceful movement of the performers, and further created a completely appealing and pleasing stage to view. This, along with cleverly choreographed side-characters sitting on the sidelines, created every scene to be akin to some kind of high-renaissance painting;— The Last Supper and The School of Athens come to mind.

In all, the Alberta Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake was an absolute pleasure to watch, and I personally enjoyed it greatly. With only a few minor critiques which are easily fixable on the performers part, I can wholeheartedly recommend this spectacle to anyone who even has a passing interest in ballet. I give it an 8.5/10.

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