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BWW Review: SWAN LAKE Enchants Edmonton


Swan Lake plays at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 7 at 2:00 p.m.

BWW Review: SWAN LAKE Enchants Edmonton

A young woman gathers flowers in a verdant forest, oblivious to the sorcerer watching her. Moments later, she is accosted by her malevolent observer and transformed into a swan.

So begins Swan Lake, the most famous ballet in history.

Composed in 1877 by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it was only after his death and the tremendous efforts of French choreographer Marius Petipa that the production went from being despised by dancers to soaring to world renown. Today, it continues to mesmerize audiences around the world, its sweeping core instantly recognizable and its timeless story inspiring films from 2010 thriller BLACK SWAN to Barbie of Swan Lake. Now, over 1 year after its initial performance dates, Christopher Anderson's stunning adaptation casts its spell at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

In true fairy tale fashion, only love can shatter the curse inflicted upon the swan maiden, Odette (Heather Dornian). She regains her true human form only between midnight to daybreak, and it is during one of these precarious windows that she crosses paths with the dashing Prince Siegfried (Kelley McKinlay). The besotted royal vows to return only to later be thwarted by his oblivious mother's attempts to marry him off to a princess and by the sorcerer Baron von Rothbart's (Eli Barnes') scheme to present his own daughter, Odile (Jennifer Gibson) as a candidate for the prince's hand.

Dornian and McKinlay are captivating as Odette and Prince Siegfried, sharing a sweet and palpable chemistry. Dornian beautifully embodies the swan maiden's lithe movements while McKinlay's every movement exudes boyish charm. They are a lovely contrast to the couple's nemeses Baron von Rothbart and Odile, who are equally thrilling to watch. Barnes is formidable in his intricate bat-like getup while Gibson garners thunderous applause while masterfully executing Odile's 32 sequential fouettés. The rest of the internationally-hailing cast are similarly superb, showcasing jaw-dropping technique and expressive body language.

Atmospheric staging is a must for Swan Lake, and set designer Peter Farmer delivers. The breathtaking sets are so intricate that you can almost smell the cathedral-like forest and feel the ghostly mist on your skin. Likewise, the palace's medieval interior boasts a painted pillared backdrop, dripping chandeliers, and even a pair of thrones that would not be out of place in a real European royal residence. Though transitions between scenes are extensive, these hiccups are forgotten upon the curtains parting to reveal another glimpse into the ballet's sumptuous world. Farmer's costumes flawlessly complement the production's aesthetics while Renée Brode's lighting add an additional layer of magic. Combined with the world-class cast and Tchaikovsky's ethereal score, Swan Lake is a truly outstanding production that should not be missed.

Swan Lake plays at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 7 at 2:00 p.m. Masking and proof of vaccination are required for all audience members.

Photo Credit: Paul McGrath

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