White Swan, Black Swan

Swan Lake at Pacific Northwest Ballet

When Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake premiered in Moscow in 1877, it received a lukewarm reception. But in the years since, after countless productions and variations — including many alternate endings — it’s become a quintessential classic, one of the most popular ballets of all time. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Kent Stowell-choreographed version had the audience transfixed and lived up to its current reputation as a beloved favorite.

The story is fantastical. A prince sees a swan in a moonlit forest, and falls in love when she transforms into a beautiful girl. They pledge their love, but the swan, Odette, is under a sorcerer’s curse. The prince tries to break the spell, but the sorcerer tricks him by disguising his daughter Odile as Odette. When the prince agrees to marry the imposter “black swan,” his love to Odette is betrayed, and she is condemned to remain a swan forever.

One of the most impressive aspects of the ballet is the opportunity for the lead dancer to play both Odette and Odile. PNB principal Carla Körbes was captivating in her portrayal of the innocent Odette and the evil temptress Odile.

The set, composed of classical columns intertwined with tree branches, provided the ideal backdrop to transport the audience from the palace ball to the romantic moonlit scenes. The costumes were perfectly classic — the swans’ sparkling white tulle that would fit right in a music box.

The evening ended with an backstage after-party for its Young Patrons Circle, complete with an aerialist, trapeze duo, photo booths, and a DJ spinning on the stage.

Swan Lake ended on April 19, but PNB will close their 2015 season with another powerful work, Carmina Burana. That performance runs May 29 through June 7 and tickets start at $30.

Event photo by Alabastro Photography. Swan Lake photo by Angela Sterling, with principal dancer Lesley Rausch pictured.

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