Friday, January 27, 2012

Show & Tell: Swan Lake

Grace. Beauty. Fluidity.

These three words sum up a night at the ballet this evening at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

This is my last scheduled review for the Show & Tell program this year. When I started the season as a Show & Tell blogger, I wanted to experience things that I might otherwise not attend. “Swan Lake,” performed by the State Ballet Theater of Russia was just such an event. My 15-year-old daughter, who had last taken a ballet class about 7 years ago, was my escort for the evening.

From the opening scene with Prince Siegfried celebrating his 21st birthday and learning that he has to choose a wife, to the climax after the ball in his honor, I was struck by the athleticism and stamina of the dancers. Prima Ballerina, Svetlana Noskova, spent more time in the air and on her toes than on her heels. Her seemingly endless series of twirls at the close of Act 3 was amazing. Mikhail Negrobov’s portrayal of Siegfried’s friend Beno added a bit of humor and agility to the beautiful display throughout the evening.

Thanks to an enlightening pre-show discussion by Jeanette Makaroff of the Makaroff Youth Ballet, I was able to better follow the story line and was prepared for some of the key scenes of the evening. As a novice to the ballet, her presentation was extremely helpful. We learned that this story has been handed down through the generations, with moves passed from teacher to student to performer. Watching the performance unfold, I kept in mind that we were watching something which had been composed and choreographed over 115 years ago.

While most of the focus of the evening was on the principle performers, I was struck by the beauty and synchronization of the ensemble as a whole. The simple set and crisp costumes effortlessly set the background for the solos. One of my favorite moments involved four members of the ensemble dancing arm in arm in perfect unison with each other while performing very intricate footwork.

I have often said that three hours at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center can never be bad, and tonight proved no exception. As we walked to our car through the fresh falling snow, I again felt privileged to live in an area that offers such a broad variety of cultural options.

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