Incred-ability

PNB’s Swan Lake and the pleasures of order

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake. Photo © Angela Sterling.

There is nothing easy about dancing en pointe. Ballerinas and danseurs often spend years perfecting their abilities to dance on the tips of the toes while still remaining graceful in their upper bodies. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Swan Lake dancers, however, make dancing en pointe look flawlessly easy.

PNB’s production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Kent Stowell, is a classic performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, with four acts and a brilliant company of dancers. The ballet tells the tragic tale of Odette and Siegfried, two lovers who are determined to break Odette’s curse of being a swan, but are undermined by the menacing Odile, who deceives Siegfriend and forces Odette to forever remain a swan by day.

The technical performance of the dancers is more than commendable; it is breathtaking. The 24 swans that line the stage behind a spinning Odette and entranced Siegfried dance in perfect uniformity, each hand gracefully moving in exact rhythm with the other dancers. Doug Fullington, PNB’S Education Programs Manager, agrees on the technical elegance of the performance.

“It’s really pleasing to watch the order of it all,” Fullington said. “100 years ago the technical requirements just weren’t the same.”

This technical prowess is also shown in the lighter areas of Swan Lake. The ballet is also spotted with bits of humor, as the skilled danseurs sometimes over-exaggerate their movements to create a sense of comedy and playfulness.

Altogether, the Pacific Northwest Ballet company shows its incredible ability; there is such immense capability that multiple ballerinas are able to play the roles of Odile and Odette throughout the ballet’s schedule, subtly changing the overall performance.

“[It’s]a great opportunity for the women in the company,” Fullington said.

Although the show might run a little long for those with relatively short attention spans, PNB’s Swan Lake is a gorgeous performance of elegance, composure, and ability; something that should be viewed by the young and old alike.


Swan Lake
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Through April 21
More info at pnb.org

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