Jazzy New Rendition Of SWAN LAKE Lands At Greater Boston Stage Company February 15
Since its premiere in 1877, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake has been a staple of dance companies all over the world. Its stunning choreography, lush score, and compelling tale of metamorphosis attracts audiences year after year. And like Shakespeare's plays, each production reinvents the classic tale in myriad ways: from more classic takes produced by the Bolshoi Ballet in the early to mid-20th century, to Matthew Bourne's modern interpretation featuring two male swans, to Natalie Portman's dark turn in the movie "BLACK SWAN."
While Swan Lake has had productions placed in the Middle Ages, 1960 and everything in between, never before has it been "jazzed up" in such a way as in Greater Boston Stage Company's production: Swan Lake in Blue: A Jazz Ballet.
Created by Boston-based composer and musician Steve Bass and choreographed by GBSC Associate Artistic Director and multiple IRNE and Elliot Norton Award winner Ilyse Robbins, Swan Lake in Blue: A Jazz Ballet is set in 1940s New York City. While the storyline remains similar in outline to the original Swan Lake telling, the main characters are tied up with the mob. Odette is not a beautiful princess, but a burlesque dancer who dances nightly at The Swan Club. A Broadway producer falls in love with her and tries to help her escape, only to discover that she is under the control of a corrupt mob boss. Passion, betrayal and mistaken identities ensue, with an ending similar to that of the original Swan Lake.
The dance and music, however, are not similar. In Swan Lake in Blue: A Jazz Ballet, a 16-piece jazz big band accompanies nearly two hours of intricately choreographed tap, jazz and lyrical dancing by a group of 12 dancers. While strains of Tchaikovsky's score float through the piece, the leading voices are not violins but saxophones and trumpets. The result is dark, uplifting, tragic, and hopeful.
Creator/composer Steve Bass has always loved jazz music and tap dance. "This piece is ballet at its core, and I have replaced the classical orchestra with a jazz big band and replaced the ballet dancers with tap, jazz and lyrical dancers. I wanted it to sound closer to a Broadway musical, but with no words-a Jazz Ballet."
In the long tradition of ballet reinvention, this production is a fresh take on a classic story-one that will leave audience members marveling at the breathtaking ways dance and music can weave a riveting tale.