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Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in NY

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Am I the only one who's been to see this run of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in NY?

I hadn't seen it before, and am a traditionalist when it comes to Swan Lake (and most classical ballet). But I had an idea of what to expect from this - I knew it was dance rather than ballet, knew the swans were male etc.

Didn't expect canned music or the lack of a synopsis and casting however those were minor points. I absolutely loved it. Loved that Bourne had the guts to jettison all the iconic Petipa/Ivanov choreography and completely re-imagine the dance and the story, while staying within the basic themes and framework. For me, what he did worked beautifully on its own terms. He wove a tapestry so rich, some of it was as rich as the best traditional stagings I've seen.

I enjoyed it so much that after I saw it in the first week pf the run I've been back 3 more times - and I feel like I need to see it again before the run ends.

I find it utterly engrossing and powerfully beautiful. The swan imagery is so different from the traditional interpretation. These swans are big, menacing creatures, perhaps representing freedom and an unbridled animal instinct but just as surely illustrating man's inhumanity, or the poor Prince's fragile psyche's devolving nightmarish state.

I've seen both Swans - Jonathan Ollivier and Richard Winsor are both riveting dancers that make the most of the dance vocabulary Bourne's given them. The Swan's motif here is more of a powerful attitude than a yearning arabesque and the imagery is alternately powerful, tender and menacing.

If you're in NY and you're open to a different, non balletic interpretation of Swan Lake you should really try to catch it before the run ends next week. I just find it so exhilarating to look at Swan Lake through fresh eyes after sitting through all the unnecessary, intrusive tinkering most modern "traditional" versions have given us. Give me something approaching the real, unadulterated Petipa/Ivanov staging or give me something completely different and brilliant like Bourne's version.

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Susan,I've also been wondering why no one here was posting about this revival and didn't want to be the first one. I missed the last run some 10 years ago and I wasn't about to miss it again. And I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for the ending of the film Billy Elliot. I saw Richard Winsor as the Swan/Stranger and Simon Williams as the Prince. Both were strong but I especially liked Simon Williams anguished portrayal of a person trapped by birth and circumstance. I was completely emotionally involved in the story. I also enjoyed the humor (which my daughter did not - she likes her Swan Lake to be tragic, thank you)and welcomed the respite from the intensity. I loved Bourne's use of the swan head - alternately violently pecking or lovingly caressing. I won't be able to go to another performance but I moved the dvd to Number 1 on my Netflix queue!

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I also saw the Bourne Swan Lake at City Center. (I saw it early in the run, during the first week of performances at City Center.) I had seen it 10 years ago on Broadway, when Keith Roberts performed the lead. The choreography for the male swans is unique and very interesting. However, I don't find it moving or beautiful. In fact, I feel that a lot of the "filler" choreography (that is, when the male swans are not on stage) is dull and undistinguished.

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Michael Popkin has just reviewed the production in his danceviewtimes blog:

Swan Lake Reimagined as Popular Theater

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake walks a fine line between successful dance and popular entertainment. Put together with Broadway pizzazz and skill, it has enough dance interest – spread over the narrative scenes in Act One and the Swan dances in Acts Three and Four – to carry the evening as a whole and climaxes in Act Four with a fitting coup de theatre. It’s true that Bourne’s re-imagining of the plot as the story of a closet case gay prince who goes insane after falling in love with a male swan coarsens the texture and theme of the work; in particular, the conflict between erotic and romantic love that drives the original is lost in a version where the prince neither vows to save the Swan nor breaks the vow by lusting after the Swan’s double. But all the same, the role of the Swan is a strong one, and got a performance from Richard Winsor the night I saw it that made me glad I saw the show.
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I haven't seen this since Adam Cooper performed it. I remember being moved and fascinated by the white scenes, and especially the strange corps of male swans. Cooper was arresting -- very charismatic -- which made up for the thinness of the choreography, very little of which had much to do with Tchaikovsky. (I suspect that he score was retained, in a mish-mashed fashion, only because it is so familiar and beloved.)

I guess I am not a good audience for "dance drama." I found tedious and obvious the corny Oedipal psychology involving the Queen Mother, the implausible nightclub scene (day-glow whores, uninteresting drunks, generic sailors, all moving to sluggish music), and the business with the black swan at the chic party. Those scenes reminded me of the story-telling, short on choreographic interest, that drags down Mayerling.)

i ownder if this would work better as an free-standing Act II/Act IV ballet, a la Balanchine's?

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