An untouched canvas. The buckets are open, the brushes are out, and vibrant paint gracefully starts coloring the white surface in a majestic dance that spreads from edge to edge, corner to corner.
That’s what I imagined when I saw the Los Angeles Ballet perform “Swan Lake,” directed by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The ballerinas’ arms and legs seemed to extend to infinity, their toes and fingers tracing soft, invisible lines through the air, finding their way around the stage. The resulting artwork is like a softer version of a Pollock painting; the lines are more gentle, the shapes less angular.
Through her grace, Alynne Noelle was able to candidly and yet elegantly tell her story as Odette, the White Swan who falls in love with Prince Siegfried (played by Kenta Shimizu) but who then tragically decides to end her life after Von Rothbart (Nicolas de la Vega and Zheng Hua Li) casts a spell on his malicious daughter Odile, disguising her as Odette.
“Swan Lake” may seem like an outdated story of young love and old societal pressures, but its real meaning is relatable to all of us. The ballet tells a story of deception and circumstances, and of the blindness of love. Kenta Shimuzu beautifully expressed his love for Odette with his strong and yet seemingly boneless body, forming elegant and precise images on stage. But his execution wasn’t perfect; his acting didn’t impart his endless love as well as his dancing did, thus mildly weakening his overall performance.
Although Shimuzu could improve his acting, the love between him and Noelle as both the White and Black Swan was evident. Their bond was mesmerizingly powerful, giving me the chills in the second act, as their relationship was blossoming.
The tale of Price Siegfried and Odette was made even more captivating by the rest of the Los Angeles Ballet dancers. Their synchronization was remarkable, their stage presence and elegance giving the main characters a sort of enrapturing support, furthered by the swans’ simple and yet charming tutus.
What I found interestingly confusing, was the third act, but this is not the director’s fault. It almost detached from the rest of the ballet, while still being pleasantly charismatic and joyful. The Spanish scene in particular added a little bit of edge and spice to the rest of the production; the music was lively and engaging, and most importantly the ballerinas’ synchronization seemed exceptionally astonishing, even more so than in the rest of their performance.
I would have never thought ballet would be able to hypnotize me the way “Swan Lake” did. It was the first time I saw such a production, and while I was admittedly expecting to walk out at least slightly bored (as I’m not very good at focusing on wordless performances), the dancers’ beauty and elegance kept me hooked the whole time.
(Written ~1 year ago)
(Written ~1 year ago)