Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Swan Lake: is it ballet?

A friend of mine fwded a link to this video of the Great Chinese State Circus' reinterpretation of "Swan Lake":

This is amazing and beautiful, but is it dance? Is it ballet? There is little chemistry between the two dancers and there is almost no storytelling at all, it's just one amazing move after the other. In that "World Championship of Dance" competition the Chinese had a similar idea: They got the Shaolin monks to string together a bunch of acrobatic martial arts moves, but that's not really dance, is it? Like any art, dance should make you feel something more than "what amazing technique!"

Any partner dance is about the relationship of the characters and the chemistry between the two dancers. Check out these versions of "Swan Lake":

You can't help but feel the attraction and the struggle between the two lovers over their forbidden romance in the first video, and the finale really knocks you out. Every move is a dialogue between the dancers that progresses the story. It's about using the movement vocabulary and physical virtuosity to tell a story, not just impress you with skill.

Just for fun I decided to look up "Swan Lake Pas de Deux," because I understand it is a standard, with traditional choreography. I found this...

...which is another part of the story, and has a "black swan" seducing the hero. Now I want to see the whole thing because I am intrigued by the story.

I searched a bit more and found thwo more interesting versions, this one has no stage set and no chorus...

...and this ballerina is particularly expressive in the same dance...

Reading the comments is very informative and helps the appreciation of the performance and the art. The comments about the ballet are about the beauty and perfection of the dancers, the emotional content of the scene, the expressiveness of the performance, and comparing with other performances. The comments about the Chinese acrobats is mostly "amazing@! Incredible! Did they use wires?" etc


No comments: