A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to see ballet classic Swan Lake performed by my hometown company, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Swan Lake is easily one of the most well-known ballet stories, with adaptations including animated childhood favorite The Swan Princess, the decidedly not-for-children film Black Swan, a Swan Lake anime, and a Barbie movie. I’ve even seen a live Rocky Horror Show where Frank-n-Furter danced Odette’s swan choreography as he died, and you’ve almost certainly heard a snippet of Tchaikovsky’s score at some point in your life.
I have trouble critiquing particular ballet performances because I’m not an expert or a dancer myself; I can’t look at a jump or watch a pas-de-deux and say how great or terrible the form was. It’s similar to watching the Olympics: you sit there entranced by the miracle that a human body can do any of that stuff—while a professional critic commentates on the myriad of errors the athletes have just made. PBT’s performance was stunning; the costumes were gorgeous and the dancers were amazing. The sets were a bit lackluster, but all in all, it was a tremendous spectacle. So while I can’t really talk about the specifics of this performance, I can talk about the story.