Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Swan Lake
Adventures in Motion Pictures
a kate west favorite
music by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
directed and choreographed by
Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne has a great eye for cinema, which is one reason his production company is called Adventures in Motion Pictures. Primarily a brilliant Choreographer, he sees dance as bodies in motion, visualizing the stage in a big picture way. As a result, his productions are luscious feats for the eye and passionate elixirs for the soul. "Swan Lake" is his third and best ballet to date, and by far his most popular.

Deviating from the lovely but tried-and-true productions like the classic Petipa and Ivanov version, Bourne contemporizes famed Russian composer Tchaikovsky's epic vision. Instead of a young girl, he casts a young prince, aching to follow his dreams and escape tedious royal life. The biggest and perhaps most controversial change is that the swans are all strong and fierce men, rather than delicate, slender women. Adam Cooper is the magnificent lead swan, who seduces both versions of the Prince (Andrew Walkinshaw as the younger, and Scott Ambler as the older). Fiona Chadwick is the icy, sterile Queen, taking any lover she can and oppressing her wayward son. Many claim that Bourne's productions have a specifically gay artistic perspective and while it is true that the male presence is quite strong, especially in "Swan", it works. It's an aesthetic choice that still conveys the universality of passion and truth.

Along with the richly beautiful and sublime musical score, this production offers beautiful and sublime dance. The sets and costumes are modern bliss and the characters cavort as paparazzi, Soho club members, East End gangsters and even cold and heartless doctors and nurses. The dancers are all consummate professionals, of course.

Your imagination will be profoundly touched and you won't want it to be over. It's one of the very few original productions that truly deserves a standing ovation. If you missed it in Los Angeles, you can still try and catch the tour or at the very least check out the DVD of the acclaimed production (winner of the Olivier Award).

Also recommended: Bourne's "Cinderella", "Nutcracker!" and "Edward Scissorhands". You can skip "Carman" (Bourne's auto mechanical take on Bizet's "Carmen").

See It Now:
Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake (Matthew Bourne)

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