Swan Lake Through the Ages

Arguably Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballet, Swan Lake has a vast and varied history.

Swan Lake was first performed in 1877, but was ill-received. Despite various attempts to salvage it, the ballet remained unpopular until Tchaikovsky’s death. Lev Ivanov choreographed a new version in his honour, it was performed in 1894, and hailed as a huge success.

At this point, some changes were made to the ballet. Originally, Von Rothbart drowned the two lovers at the end of the play. It was now changed to the story we know now: Odile commits suicide by drowning herself, the Prince cannot live without her, and their spirits reunite in the apotheosis.

Mathilde Kschessinska

In 1908, Anna Pavlova first took to the stage as Odile, and the infamous ‘Dying Swan’ solo was incorporated.

Anna Pavlova

In 1934, Swan Lake was performed in Britain for the very first time.

In 1950, a version of Swan Lake was created under the Soviet Regime, where the tragic ending was substituted for one where the couple live happily ever after.

In 1976, John Neumeier recreated the ballet once again, bringing in the story of Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was known to have a fascination with swans. The ballet ends with Ludwig drowning in an asylum.

John Neumeier’s version

In 1984, Nureyev extended the role of the prince, giving him solos so that he was no longer just an assistant for lifts. He also introduced the idea that Odette and Odile may just be figments of the Prince’s imagination.

Elisabeth Platel as Odile in Nureyev’s version.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake was first performed in 1995, and is notable because the female corps de ballet was controversially swapped for a male one.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, first performed in 2002, was loosely based on the love triangle between Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Graeme Murphy’s version

It is now one of the most popular ballets in the world.

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2012

Its popularity even led to the oscar-winning film, Black Swan.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Lots of Razz love. Katy, xxx

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