Welcoming the viewer with a red curtain and the strong classical notes of Tchaikovsky’s legendary score, Swan Lake (via YouTube) begins. Free on the virtual platform for a limited time, this piece, danced by the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), granted home-bound viewers an escape to the arts. Obviously, the virtual platform had its own distinct advantages and disadvantages in comparison to the live performance. With easy accessibility and free viewing, the online version surpassed the live performance, but the sometimes fuzzy video and the small screen left it lacking in other respects. Though I doubt many people clicked on the video expecting an equal experience to live performance, it’s noteworthy to mention that the different mediums give distinct advantages to their audience.
Although confined to a small screen, the obvious precision of every movement was incredible. It seems standard to expect the ease of perfection from ballet, but the dancers’ fluid grace still astounded me. The movement was not cookie-cutter neat; instead, it was tailored to fit each character’s personality, a key aspect to the success of the ballet. Whether it was a lilting, drunken friend at the party or the great swan herself, the message of the dancer’s persona was very apparent. But no matter how beautiful the method of storytelling was, the dance had the potential to be quite confusing, especially to someone new to the story, such as myself. Thankfully, a previous YouTube video by PNB outlined the simple story of the ballet and gave details on the characters, primarily the two main characters, Siegfried and Odette. Siegfried is the prince who falls in love with Odette, the main swan. Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Seth Orza as Siegfried, and Noelani Pantastico as Odette, in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake. Photo © Angela Sterling.