Aired on KSDS-FM on 1/3/20
RUN DATES: 12/3 – 1/5/20
VENUE: Ahmanson Theatre, L.A.
If the mention of “Swan Lake” calls up images of dainty ballerinas fluttering in starched white tutus — you haven’t seen “Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.”
Sir Matthew, the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer, has been creating wildly imaginative dance theater pieces for decades. And this magnum opus won acclaim around the world, including Tony Awards for both Direction and Choreography.
Using the music of Tchaikovsky, and the basic story of the Petipa/Ivanov ballet of 1875, Bourne did something outrageous that still seems shocking, 20 years after it first premiered stateside, in Los Angeles.
He made the corps de ballet male — the whole bevy of swans, beautiful, bare-chested, mega-talented, macho men. They may have lithe limbs, but they hiss frequently, and never let you forget that they’re wild creatures. And they’re positively brutal in the final scene, when they realize their leader is choosing a human over them.
That lead swan, who also appears at a royal ball as a leather-clad lady-killer, falls hard for the young Prince.
There are whimsical, humorous and satirical elements here, including skewering British royals and parodying the original ‘Swan Lake,” amusingly employing the fluttery choreography Bourne’s work has rejected — replacing it with gorgeous men, erotic moves and gay themes.
His slightly updated and revised “Swan Lake,” now at the Ahmanson Theatre in L.A., includes more hip, modern club dancing, and a new lighting designer who helps enhance the stunning stage pictures.
I saw this show 20 years ago, and I can guarantee, this is one production you won’t forget. The costumes, makeup, sets — and oh, the dancing — will literally take your breath away. Bourne’s company, New Adventures, is as strong in conveying emotion and drama as they are at leaping skyward and seeming to fly.
The music isn’t live, but the sound is superb, and the familiar melodies, that used to seem so sweet, now take on an element of darkness and danger.
This unique piece of dance theater will surprise, delight and chill you to your bones. Even if you’re not a dance aficionado, see “Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.” It will change your mind about ballet forever.
©2020 PAT LAUNER/Patté Productions, Inc.