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Swan Lake: which productions have you seen?

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Time to do a new ballet!!!

This is one ballet I'll bet we've all seen, in some version. Mel did a lovely job in our ballets section (more any time now, Mel :) ) on Swan Lake, and you may want to refer to it:


I thought it would be interesting to start with our individual perspectives on the ballet. Which Swan Lakes have you seen? (In order, if you can.) For Americans and many Western Europeans, especially those who began going to the ballet in the days of the Iron Curtain, our notions of what "Swan Lake" is may be very different from our Russian and Eastern European visitors.

So, what "Swan Lakes" have you seen? (If we could keep these discussions focused primarily on the PRODUCTIONS and not the dancers, at least for now, I'd appreciate it. :) )

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The two that I have seen- of course, the video of Makarova and Dowell with the Royal, and the only production I have seen live was the Baryshnikov revival in 1989... when he put six of the swans in black- I guess they were demi-soloists- at least I remember trying to figure that out. Overall, I accepted that staging as pretty traditional. Oh- how could I forget the televised broadcast of NYCB's Swan Lake? Regarding that one, I missed a lot of what Martins' took out- the mime, the sets, the peasant dances, the traditional costumes- and the traditional ending of a traditional act 2 pas de deux. (He used the Balanchine ending of the pas de deux, right?) This ending does not work for me in a full-length ballet, and knowing the music for act two, it is awfully jarring to hear something else.

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leibling, I love your review of Martins' Swan Lake -- you put everything in two sentences!!! (I think the black-costumed Swans are in Russian productions as well. I always assumed they were baby swans, as real baby swans are black rather than white.)

My first "Swan Lake" was the Old Royal production, which is my favorite not only because it was my first, but because I loved the Ashton choreography -- the big waltz in the first act, the pas de quatre, the tarantella, the fourth act. (I saw Nureyev and Monica Mason the first night, Makarova and Dowell the second.)

Then ABT's -- three productions, the old Blair, the Baryshnikov, the current McKenzie; I'll take the Blair -- with dozens of casts. I saw Bruhn's for National Ballet of Canada in the late 1970s as well. He made Von Rothbart a woman. The Evil Queen.

Nureyev's for Paris -- it grew on me. I had to see it seven times in one week, and saw it several times in subsequent seasons.

The Kirov's (Sergueyev) production, also traditional and very lovely.

The Stanislavsky (sp?), which I saw for the first time only two years ago, and found eye-opening: it's obviously the source for a lot of new, improved Swan Lakes. (I found it a pop version, stripped of everything that interests me in the Old Royal or Old Kirov.)

Peter Martins' version -- in Denmark, where it looked better (at least compared to the tape of NYCB). The sets also look more comfortable at home -- there's a Danish context for them, and I can see how they'd look out of place in New York.

Lots of smaller companies -- Tomasson's for San Francisco, Stevenson's for Houston. Can't remember all of them.

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I've seen:

1. SFB's, by Helgi Tomasson: It's a very pretty production, but there isn't enough drama or feeling as I remember it. Of course, this may have more to do with the dancers, but I really balked at the way Tomasson included "outside music" in the last act, instead of the intended music for the pas de deux. But I have seen worse...

2. ...namely NYCB's PBS broadcast, by Peter Martins. I mean no disrespect, but this one really rubbed me the wrong way, mainly because of the decor: "Jackson Pollock Goes To The Ballet." It may look very nice in Denmark or at the State Theater, but on a TV set it's an eyesore, especially the first scene with its construction-orange background, and the stark contrast against Damian Woetzel's cobalt-blue costume. :eek:

3. Royal Ballet, Makarova-Dowell video: In my mind, the definitive production. Say what you will about Makarova's musicality or lack thereof, but this is by far the most complete production I know of. So respectful is Sir Frederick Ashton's staging that it's hard to tell exactly which parts are his and which are Petipa's and Ivanov's.

[ 06-23-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]

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I've only seen PNB's version live. It has a traditional Act I pas de trois and a traditional Act II, albeit without mime, and a traditional Black Swan pas in Act III. Kent Stowell choreographed the rest, including an Act IV that uses music from the 1877 original that was not included in 1985. Odette becomes a swan at the end, leaving Siegfried alone. I really like this final act and think it works very well with the music.

I have other versions on tape, including several Bolshoi and Kirov productions.

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In order, huh? OK - lemme try:

  • The Bolshoi, starring Nina Timofeyeva and Maris Liepa.
  • The old Royal production, starring Svetlana Beriosova and Donald MacLeary.
  • The "old" NYCB version, while Balanchine was still tinkering with it - the day I saw it, 4 Swans were IN!
  • The Kirov, starring Alla Sizova and Yuri Soloviev.
    And after that, I get them all mixed up!

[ 06-24-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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The first production I ever saw was from the lawn at Wolf Trap! It was the Kirov's production in the mid-eighties and it was danced by Zaklinsky and Asylmuratova if my memory serves me correctly. It's no wonder that Swan Lake has remained as my favorite story ballet along with Giselle through out the years. Especially after a start like that. I can't say what I thought of the actual production. I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.

I have also seen the Paris Opera Ballet's Nureyev version and saw him dance both Seigfreid and the tutor late in his career. There was also Balanchine's one act version, the Royal's with Guillem as Odette, Helgi Tomassin's SFB version, and all 3 of ABT's. I did like the Blair production. It was very solid but at times seemed to recall those ponderous Soviet productions of the fifties. Baryshnikov's seemed most like a fairy tale to me because of the sets I think. McKenzie's was the latest that I've seen and, unlike most of the ballet alert members, I did like the prologue and the overall production. The lake scene with it's blue moon lighting suggested that the enchanted spell effect was something cosmic, a force far beyond the control of any of the participants. At the same time the shimmering illumination still reflected the hope that Odette might hold onto that the spell be broken. I did not like the huge sun that rose at the end of the ballet. I'm sure it was a symbol of light overcoming the darker forces but I felt that I needed Ray Bans after the more poetic blue moon. It broke the magical effect for me. I can't say which production has been my favorite over the years. They each have given me something to love and to complain about.

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For full-length productions, I've seen only one; I was forced to dash out of the other (by whom, I can't remember) because I had eaten a bad candy bar and its consequences were affecting my digesting tract.

The full-length was when the Kirov came touring to Japan, and Sofia Gumerova with Igor Kolb as the two main characters. It had the black swans in the Act IV too, and that was kind of interesting because it follows the Black Swan pdd and I think that Odile's wrath on Odette still plays a part, instead of Act III just being a 'happening' in this continuing saga of Swan Lake.

I really loved the costumes for the character dances, and the scenery and 'extras' made the stage encompass all of its space and let the audience feel like they'd stepped into a royal engagement in a palace. A word about the stage - the place the Kirov performed in was not made for dances, and so everytime a pointe shoe made contact with the stage or Kolb finally came down from his jump, a resounding *THUD* echoed throughout the theatre. I couldn't help grimacing through the Cygnets dance because their feet weren't together and that was made worse by the fact that individual 'clunk, thud, bang's were heard.

I went back home kind of disappointed because of all the excess noise, but the dancing was effective enough for me to give it a :).


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The first production I saw was the Royal Ballet's of the late 60's, and the various editions of that one: the Ashton/Tchaikovsky ending and the Ivanon/Drigo one (which is the one I really prefer), the pas de trois in, the pas de trois out, the Ashton pas de quatre in the lst act/3rd act, the makurka in/out. But over all it was a lovely production, very simple, very believable.

The Festival Ballet did a version, set by Beryl Grey, which nobody much liked. As I remember, the folk dancing was replaced by the princesses dancing classically (they were from the various countries), and a brand new last act, which wasn't up to much.

The Canadian Ballet, with the Wicked Witch of the West substituting for von Rothbart, and Odette surviving ending.

The San Francisco Ballet's, set in the 18th century; I would think even a 20th century Swan Lake would be more appropriate than that rational, even-tempered, harmonious age. I thought it was completely wrong-headed.

Balanchine's one-act version, in the newly designed ice-palace edition. I have never found his, with so many of the shapes and phrases taken from Ivanov, to be as moving as the original. It just seems a bit fussy and figity.

The old David Blair ABT version. This was a bit down-at-heels, and the first act was a bit messy, but the 2nd and 4th acts were just fine. (sob, sob)

The new, Russified Royal Ballet version. I thought it was about the worst production of a classic the Royal Ballet had ever done, until their Sleeping Beauty topped it. Swan Lake is not a Russian story, it is not set in the 19th century (I know the Romanov's weren't much in the brains department, but to go hunting with a cross-bow when his army has guns is a bit silly even for Siegfried.) The lake sets are hideous and unmagical, like someone's own private nightmare, not some magical place. And having Siegfried come bouncing on in the third act running around like he just swallowed the jester is dramatic nonsense.

Peter Martins' version. I have gone on at length about it and I think my review is still posted on the reviews page if anyone is interested!

The new ABT version. A major disappointment, because they had a decent version which needed some polishing. Again, it is just so dramatically inept. How could anyone not give Siegfried the closing scene of the first act?

The various Russian versions, too indistinct to keep track of. Too many jesters, not enough mime, and terrible last acts.

It seems that the further away productions get from the original, the clumsier and more inept they become. In addition to writing "Odette is not a bird" I wish directors would also write until they believed it "Petipa/Ivanov were better choreographers than I am."

[ 06-25-2001: Message edited by: cargill ]

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Both versions of Balanchine's (white and black costumes) at NYCB and Martins' production.

David Blair and Baryshnikov at ABT. Loved the first, grew up on it and saw countless casts. This will always be SWAN LAKE for me. The second was terrible.

Nureyev's for POB and the National Ballet of Canada's with Nureyev on tape.

A Royal Ballet production, as a child, don't know which one.

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The first Swan Lake I saw live was ABT's Blair's production in 1981 with Cynthia Gregory and Alexander Godunov and it was great.

The next Swan Lake I saw live was the Kirov's new production by Vinagradov in the early 90's at New York State Theater. The best parts of the ballet were the exquisite dancing of the corps and the harp cadenza at the beginning of the Act II Pas de Deux. It was different than the usual one and was absolutely gorgeous. Acts I, II and III were fine, but it went completely downhill in Act IV when Von Rothbart kills Siegfried and Odette kills Von Rothbart and she and the Swans bouree offstage as the ballet ends. I remember my mother and I looking at one another and saying 'What was that?' It was sort of a feminist version of Swan Lake, I suppose, but it was ludicrous.

My favorite Swan Lake videos are Maya Plisetskaya's with the Bolshoi. Her Odette wasn't that lyrical or poetic, but her Odile was brilliant: nasty, devious and irresistible. I love Makarova's Swan Lake with ABT from the 70's, even though Ivan Nagy's dancing is weak. In the 80's, PBS used to have an annual arts special called 'Gala of Stars' with opera singers, instrumentalists and dancers. One of the last of these programs featured a sublime performance of the Act II Pas de Deux with Makarova and Nagy accompanied by violinist Itzak Perlman and cellist Lynn Harrell. Makarova's and Nagy's dancing/chemistry plus that gorgeous music played by 2 great artists has remained in my memory as clearly as if I saw it yesterday.

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'NYCB's PBS broadcast, by Peter Martins. I mean no disrespect, but this one really rubbed me the wrong way, mainly because of the decor: "Jackson Pollock Goes To The Ballet." It may look very nice in Denmark or at the State Theater, but on a TV set it's an eyesore, especially the first scene with its construction-orange background'


I'm laughing out loud at your description of Martins' choice of set design. I recall thinking 'Mark Rothko goes to the Ballet' watching that hideous orange set in Act I.

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Videos/ TV:

1. Royal Ballet- Fonteyn & Nureyev

2. Bolshoi Ballet- Bessmertnova & Bogatyrev

3. NYCB ( PBS)- Weese & Woetzel


1. NBoC ( Kudelka version)- Jennifer Fournier & Rex Harrington, Xiao Nan Yu & Ryan Boorne

So far, the Bolshoi version has been my favourite. The sets and choreography seem close to the original, and I really like the character dancers in Act 3, especially the russian variation. The Royal version is traditional too, and the character dances are not in pointe shoes. It was a few years ago that I watched it, but I remember there being a lot ( too much?) mime.

Martin's version was not a hit with me. I won't get into the costumes and sets that seemed bright and tacky. The style and choreography didn't seem to "fit" at times, but perhaps it's just me. I really like the vaganova training and style for this ballet.

Kudelka's version is simply too dark. The Act 2&4 set is more a swamp than a lake, but the Act 3 set is stunning. There's a prologue with Rothbart sitting under the moon with huge wings and some electronic swans go by. A waste of money imo. I don't like how Act 1 is all men, and how Rothbart never seems to leave Odette or Odile and the Prince alone for a second!

A lot of the new Swan Lakes have been dissapointing and very expensive. Maybe we should stop trying to change this classic!

The newest Swan Lake video is probably the one with Ananiashvili & the State Perm Ballet. Would those of you who have seen it recommend it?

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I (unfortunately) bought the Ananiashvi/Fedayachev Perm ballet video. Didn't like it. The dancing by the Perm ballet performers is fine. Of course, they have the stupid Jester, who is danced well in this production but, as always, superfluous and annoying. Alexei Fedayachev is not bad but I've always found him and his father not especially interesting. Father and son were both great partners but added little of themselves to the role and lacked excitment or drama. And as for Nina... well, I found her so-so. Her dancing can be so gawky and her limbs flapping all over that dispite her formidable technique, I just don't believe her in roles. She has a gorgeous body, I think she's adorable, she's a real athlete, but I just don't think she's much of an artist. Given the choice, I would have Makarova as Odette (I saw her dance it in San Francisco with Rudy substituting for Dowell) and Plisetskaya as Odile. I don't think there's anyone who can touch Maya in that role.

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I’m trying to remember exactly how many productions of Swan Lake I have actually seen. I can clearly recall about 12, but think I may have seen more.

We all think we know the ballet well, but the sheer diversity of these productions means that we see a whole new concept every time.

Over the years I have seen ballets starting with a prologue showing Odette becoming a swan; first acts with/ without a jester; second acts with/without Benno; third acts with a different dancer as Odile and fourth acts with totally different endings. With Odette and Seigfried both dying/one dying/going to heaven/remaining alive. In addition I have seen male swans, a nude female Rothbart and (most recently) a production that centred around Rothbart (he was renamed the King and was Seigfried’s father) All this has been in addition to the tinkering with the choreography which you come to expect in a new production.

For the record, my favourite production was the old RB one, with the Leslie Hurry designs, but the best production currently to be seen is the Kirov version, which shares a lot similarities to the RB one that I loved so much.

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1) Balanchine with Maria Tallchief and Nicholas Magallanes (Act II)

2) Royal Ballet with Rowena Jackson and Philip Chatfield

3) Bolshoi with Plisetskaya and (not sure)

4) Royal Ballet again with Fonteyn and Blair and Beriosova Macleary. (I think this was essentially the same Leslie Hurry production that Blair later did for ABT). I guess it was basically Ashton with deValois input.

5) Kirov (Sergueyev production) - and I can't remember with whom - whoever and all who did it on the 1961 US tour.

6) Royal Ballet Carl Tom's production. This is the one that had the prologue (later cut), VR bringing the national dancers to the ball and the Ashton 4th act. (If I recall rightly, Makarova kept this for her production) There was a polonaise and a Mazurka choreographed by Nureyev

7)Beryl Grey's production for Festival Ballet (early 70s). I PROBABLY saw Evdokimova and ?. I guess I also saw Maina Gielgud do this while she was with the company. I don't remember much about it - it was that memorable - except that at the end, after Odette and Siegfried jump off the rocks, the swans formed a cross on stage. I have a feeling that the production debuted around Easter, and everyone was trying to figure out whether Grey had been carried away by religion.

8) POB's Nureyev production - the one in the box. I loathed it. I thought the POB danced it like civil servants: like marionettes. Having seen them many times in other things, perhaps they were told to be like that.

9) On film only: the Nureyev production for Vienna: the one where the swans run under the floor cloth at the end and Siegfried climbs a tree stump.... A friend once showed me the program from Vienna. There was an English translation of the libretto. In part it read: "Back at the ball there is a bevy of beautiful belles."

10) the Leslie Hurry/David Blair prod. for ABT

11) Makarova's production for ABT

12) Eric Bruhn's production for NBC

13) Peter Martin's production for the NYCB. No comment. My husband is taking a shower, so if I need to barf I can't.

14)Kevin McKenzie's production for ABT

I'm sure I've seen others somewhere along the line. Oh - the more recent Bolshoi production, of course. And the Boston Ballet/Kirov joint production. How could I forget?


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That is a wonderful stage direction/translation. I remember a very literal translation of a Czech opera, which described a ball as having the guests "engaged in active milling", which I think if a pretty good description of some of the lst act Swan Lakes I have seen.

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I miss the Drunken Raid on the Aristocrat's Punchbowl the ABT corps peasants used to do in the first act of the Blair production. I have a feeling it wasn't originally in Blair's staging, but rather something that evolved on its own as the corps tried to overcome the monotony of a milllion first acts.

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I hesitated a while about bumping this topic so far up, but talk about Swan Lake and changed endings, here's one that I haven't seen mentioned before. It is danced by Cape Town City Ballet (formerly PACT), or rather, it was danced by them. I haven't seen their Swan Lake for years now and may have changed in the meantime.

It has a prologue showing how Odette and all her ladies-in-waiting get changed into swans. The rest of the ballet is relatively traditional, but in the last act, Siegfried and Rothbart fight and Siegfried eventually rips one of Rothbart's HUGE wings off. This apparently kills him. Odette then comes in, no longer as a swan, but dressed as the princess she was before Rothbart put his spell on her.

And so they lived happily ever after...

I grew up on this version, which maybe explains why I never had any problems with the Bolshoi's "happy ending" production.

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No question in my mind the very best Swan Lake currently on video is The Royal Ballet's production starring Natalia Makarova and Anthony Dowell. WOW! If you wish to introduce someone to the art of ballet and show them why its so beautiful, and if you can't get them to a theater, this video is the next best thing.

I love the fact that it is a straight forward production that paid due respect to Petipa and Ivanov while at the same time opening the ballet enough to add original choreography by Frederick Ashton and Rudolf Nureyev.

The sets and costumes by Leslie Hurry are beautiful and sumptuous and gave you a real sense medieval Germany.

Anthony Dowell dancing can be sum up in three words: regal, glamorous, elegant.

As for Natalia Makarova, she is as close to perfection as I have yet seen of the characterization of Odette/Odile. Phrasing, musicality, heartbreaking, its all there. They dancing the lakeside act pas de deux is one of the most hauntingly expressive performance of that extraoridinary pas de deux I ever seen.

And every Swan Lake production should have Ashton's choreography of the Neapolitan Dance. Joyous, inventive, creative and high-flying fun. Rosemary Taylor and Wayne Sleep are terrific.

The television direction wonderfully capture the stage production for the video audience. Close-up, wide angle, over head angle, editing, fantastic job.

From the best to the worst. The State Perm Ballet video production is in a word awful. First there is the noise. When the swans started dancing on point you can hear them coming a mile away. Clunk, clunk. The choreography with the exception of the standard set pieces are weak. The sets and costumes are chessy and cheap looking. The dancing was reliable at best. I understand that Aleksei Fadeyetchev is regarded as one of the best male dancers of his generation. You won't understand that base on this video. He's a wonderful partner, but he is to expessive with his mine dancing. Arms and head waving to much, he makes to big a production in declaring his love for Odette when touching his heart with his hands. Overall a terrible production.

The only saving grace was Nina Ananiashvili. In fact she was the reason I brought the video. The first live production of Swan Lake I saw was Kevin McKenzie's new ABT's production starring Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca. I was so rapture by her performance I brought the tape, thinking I could have the beauty of her dancing capture on tape. Big mistake.

I like McKenzie production. Zach Brown's set and costumes are beautifully sumptuous. Some people have said overly beautiful. I like the prologue showing how Von Rothbart trick Odette and change her into a swan. But I can also see why some people have problems with the production. Why is it that American productions of Swan Lake always seem to cut the ballet by combining the four acts into just two acts. Do they think American audience are incapable at seating though four acts? When the swans are dancing in the second act of McKenzie production after the ballroom scene in front of a backdrop, it is so obivous they are dancing mainly so the sets can be change. And boy you can hear the stage crew changing them. But overall I love the production.

I also love the Kirov current production as well. They have authority written all over their production.

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When I first saw the Peter Martins SWAN LAKE I hated it...so ugly. But because I wanted to see certain dancers in these roles, I have been back several times and now I have gotten used to it. I have learned to tune out the backdrop, and the too-colourful costumes of the opening scene.

I guess what I like about it is: it is dance, dance, dance...there is very little mime or filler. The Jester, who can be so annoying in some productions, is here given just enough to do and the steps are quite brilliant esp. as danced by Adam Hendrickson or Daniel Ulbricht. Also the dance of the Would-Be-Brides is very lovely and gives nice little glimpses of several of the beautiful girls in the NYCB corps. The passage following the Black Swan PDD is very powerful...Rotbart keeps giving Siegfried opportunities to back off from Odile but the Prince persists, getting totally fed up with Rotbart and emphatically pledging his faith to Odile, with disastrous consequences. The entire final lakeside scene is quite moving and the lighting here is very good, and the addition of Black swans is visually striking.

The focus is strongly on Siegfried...really, it's his story. The ending, with Rotbart defeated but Odette doomed to remain a Swan because Siegfried has pledged himself both to her and to Odile, is the best ending of SWAN LAKE I have ever seen...and suits the music perfectly. There is no triumph, no redemption. Odette's leave-taking of her failed savior is truly poignant and we are left with the utterly dejected, miserable Siegfried to live on with the memory of his betrayal.

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I've seen 4 different productions of Swan Lake all very different.

The first one I saw (only when I was little) was Graeme Murphy's contemporary take on the story of Odette and Siegfried. It is part of the Australian Ballet's repertoire, and they have toured to Britain, America, and Japan with it. The story is about a young girl who doubts the fidelity of her new husband and goes mad, finding peace only in a fantasy of swan-like maidens. The late and tragic re-capture of her husbands love leads to both their deaths.

I might note that the Australian Ballet is doing another performance season of this production next year (at different times around Australia) and if ur in Australia at the right time it is well worth seeing.

The 2nd production of swan lake that i have seen/danced is the Anne Wooliams production. I have both seen it on video and danced in it as a jester in the Australian Ballet School's production of the ballet. I thoroughly enjoy this version as it has a logical story that I think is easier to follow than other more 'traditional' productions. The choreography as well is just sublime-a really great use of the classical technique to express the emotions of the characters, especially the swans: Act 4 makes me cry every time!

The 3rd production I have seen is the Paris Opera Ballet's Nureyev version. I didn't enjoy this version as much because of the different roles characters like Rothbart and Siegfried play-to me Swan Lake is not about a complicated relationship between Rothbart and his apprentice but about the Swans and Siegfried's involvement with them that happens to include the evil and spiteful Rothbart. I don't think a romantic style story such as Swan Lake needs any type of complex deeper meanings and such-I think the deepness of good vs evil, light vs dark, and some good choreography can support a ballet with such a constant theme of true and desperate love. I just didn't enjoy this version because it had too much in it that the dancers had to portray-simple and strong I think is the way to go with a romantic storyline.

The 4th production doesn't fully count as I've only seen it on video, but I'm putting it here anyway-the Bolshoi production (I THINK it was the Bolshoi, it was with Zakharova and Roberto Bolle-correct me if im wrong someone). I liked it... I spose but the choreography annoyed me-again I think simple is the way to go rather than 50 different sequences in every variation and dance. As well at the points in the music where there was a massive crescendo and climax it was often only a single person dancing (e.g Act 4 where Siegfried's final entrance, and attempt to drown himself in the lake was just laughable-which it should NOT be!!). Other than that I think they got the story right-nice and simple again so that the dancers can focus on showing emotions rather than thoughts.

Overall I like both the Australian productions the best (the Murphy and Wooliams) because the stories are simple but powerful-and can be shown easily enough with some good choreography and brilliant music!

P.S Tchaikovsky's music is deserved of the highest praise-it puts me through so many emotions every time I listen to it. It's relaxing but energising, it simplifies but it is so complex-I LOVE SWAN LAKE MUSIC :thumbsup:

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The productions I've seen are:

ABT - Baryshnikov's version, MacKenzie's version and Blair's version
NYCB - Martin's version & Balanchine's version
POB - Nureyev's version
Royal Ballet - Hurry's version and Dowell's version
Bolshoi - Grigorovich's version
Maryinsky - Sergeyev's version
Adventures in Motion Pictures - Bourne's version

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Thanks, Benny190891 and Cygnet, for reviving this thread. I hope others will join in. It's a wonderful memory test.

The 4th production doesn't fully count as I've only seen it on video, but I'm putting it here anyway-the Bolshoi production (I THINK it was the Bolshoi, it was with Zakharova and Roberto Bolle-correct me if im wrong someone).
The La Scala dvd? Strangely, I rather liked the way the drowning effect was done in the end.

I"ve seen a lot and forgotten the details of most. :wallbash:

Among live performances, I still have hazy black-and-white memories -- rather like scraps of old silent film -- from a Ballet Theater performance when I was a child in NYC in the early 50s, though this might have just been the 2 big pdd's.

Merle Park, with the Royal in NYC in the 60s or 70s, stays with me. As does Bessmertnova with the Bolshoi (also in NYC) from approximately the same time. For years I kept thinking that her name was "Bessemer," as in Bessemer converter.

Also: Makarova and Gregory in the Baryshnikov staging (both ABT in the 80s). The Balanchine Act II starting in the late 50s, danced by almost all the principals in NYCB through the course of different seasons, and to very different effect.

Most recently, Elena Kulagina in the Makarova version, performed by Perm State Ballet on US tour.

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The first Swan Lake I saw was Peter Darrell's production for Scottish Ballet where Act 2 was Seigfried's drug induced dream. I really didn't like it (I probably saw it in 1985 or 1986) and it nearly put me off!!

My next Swan Lake was Natalia Makarova's production for London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet). The opening night in Bradford was magical - Trinidad Sevillano and Patrick Armand were breath-taking together. This production used Sir Frederick Ashton's Pas de Quatre and Neapolitan (never bettered) and some of his Act 4. Makarova called him on stage for the curtain calls and the audience erupted.

Since then I saw Raisa Struchova's production for ENB, which I hated (especially the happy ending) and Derek Deane's conventional production for them.

Galina Samsova did a delightful, traditional production for Scottish Ballet. The set and costumes were by Jasper Conran and were stunning. My recollection is that it got mixed reviews because some reviewers felt that Scottish Ballet did not have enough dancers to mount a traditional Swan Lake.

When I first started following Northern Ballet Theatre they introduced a traditional production of Swan Lake by Andre Prokovsky. When Christopher Gable took over he commissioned a new production by an American choreographer (Denis Wayne?) that had all new choreography, including a roller-skating tutor for Seigfried. This was amended drastically over several seasons and became unmissable. This, for the reviewers, was the other side of the coin to Scottish Ballet's in that it used the Tchaikowsky score, the name and the story but not the conventional choreography - and how absolutely dare they!!!!! Damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Since then David Nixon has produced another new production for NBT, set on the East Coast of America in the 1920s, with an interesting love triangle and his own choreography. I love it and hope they bring it back soon!

I also very much enjoyed Australian Dance Theatre's take on Swan Lake - Birdbrain - when I saw it last year (if I wrote this tomorrow it would be two years ago!).

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake makes perfect sense to me, using male swans - although beautiful, swans are such powerful birds that they have always struck me as being masculine. Although I am no expert, I think it is actually very conventionally structured. I've seen some terrific performances of this over the years by Adam Cooper, Will Kemp and, especially, Simon Cooper. For me, other casts have struggled to achieve their magic.

My favourite, conventional Swan Lake has got to be Sir Peter Wright's for Birmingham Royal Ballet. He has a real genius for mounting the big classics and this is no exception. It is handsomely dressed in black and silver and I have been fortunate to see some fabulous performances over the years. One that sticks in my mind is from three or four years ago with Ambra Vallo and Sergiu Pobereznic. They are both mature artists (Pobereznic has since retired) and their stage-craft was really telling. It was another unforgettable afternoon in Birmingham. The Dutch National Ballet, inter alia, also had/have this production and there is a recorded version of them doing it. BRB are touring this production extensively in the Spring of 2008 and I'm really looking forward to it.

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