Any conversation on ballet will inevitably touch on Swan Lake, one of the form’s most timeless pieces. I was lucky enough to have seen it again, this time from Ballet Manila, and I was spellbound by the magic I saw on stage.
Swan Lake tells the story of Odette, a beautiful young princess who is turned into a white swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. The only way to break the spell is for a virgin to fall in love with her and promise eternal fidelity. Siegfried, a young prince who needs to find a bride, meets her and falls in love, but the sorcerer has other plans, using the black swan.
Despite its reputation as a difficult ballet, soloist Joan Sia effortlessly performs the roles of Odette (the White Swan) and Odile (The Black Swan), easily showing the soft, pliant, and lyrical vulnerability of the White Swan and the fiery technique and speed of the Black Swan. For me, she truly shone in her role as Odile, where she seemed to taunt the audience with her eyes and her seductive smirk.
She was complemented by Ballet Manila principal dancer Rudy de Dios as Siegfried, who had such stage presence and a strong body that leaped through the air and carried Sia. His movements were the perfect canvas to show the spectrum of emotions that the prince must endure throughout the show.
Equally compelling was the ensemble, which moved with such elegance that they kept my eyes glued to the stage even when Sia and de Dios were offstage. Ballet Manila’s version featured the original Lev Ivanov choreography for the “white acts” or the first act, followed by choreography by Russia People’s Artist Sergey Vikulov and Tatiana Udalenkova for acts two to four.
The stage was also a thing of beauty, with set designer Miguel Faustmann creating a futuristic tableau by the lakeside. The blue lights, the smoke, and the large moon created an eerie atmosphere that was a contrast to the romantic story unfolding on stage.
Swan Lake also featured Peter Tchaikovsky’s original score, played by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Russian conductor, Maestro Alexander Vikulov of the Mariinsky Theater.
This may have been the second time I watched Swan Lake, but each viewing brought a new experience and perspective. The dancers brought their own style to the stage, and I don’t mind watching it over and over and over again.
This post was in partnership with Ballet Manila. Ballet Manila’s Swan Lake was staged on October 7 and October 14 at 6:00 PM and October 8 and October 15 at 3:00 PM at the Aliw Theater. For tickets, visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tickets are also available through all Ticketworld outlets. Please call 8919999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.
*All photos courtesy of Ballet Manila