a different way of approaching a classic of classics

This Tuesday, November 23, a new production of the famous ballet takes the stage of the El Nacional Theater Swan Lake, in a brand new version of the Argentine choreographer Jorge Amarante, former dancer of the Teatro Colón, later co-director of his corps de ballet and later director of the Ballet de Monterrey, in Mexico.

A new production does not mean in this case a more or less faithful replacement of the original work premiered in 1895 in Saint Petersburg. Replays of this type happen every year in almost every great ballet company on the planet.

But no, even though this Swan lake draws inspiration in many respects from scholarly work and also uses Tchaikovsky’s score, offers a totally different perspective on that story of love, deceit and death.

This &Quot;Swan Lake&Quot; Respects The Score, But Offers A New Perspective On The Story.  That Says.  Photo Martín Bonetto

This “Swan Lake” respects the score, but offers a new perspective on the story. that says. Photo Martín Bonetto

The argument of a classic

Let us briefly recall the plot of the original ballet, created by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov: Prince Siegfried celebrates his birthday in the first act; in the second, he goes hunting and discovers a flock of swans, actually princesses enchanted by the witch Von Rothbart.

The prince falls in love with one of them, Odette, who recovers her human form during the night. Only an oath of sincere love, like this one from Siegfried, can break the spell.

Third act: a great party where marriageable princesses from all over the world arrive. The queen wants Siegfried to choose his future wife from among them. Von Rothbart then appears with his daughter Odile (the Black Swan), identical to Odette, to whom Siegfried swears love once more.

Four Acts To Tell A Story Of A Deception And A Death Full Of Poetry.  Photo Martín Bonetto

Four acts to tell a story of a deception and a death full of poetry. Photo Martín Bonetto

The deception consummated and the first oath unintentionally broken, in the fourth act the death of the lovers is precipitated that they will meet only in the afterlife.

-George, what made you want to tell the story of Odette and Prince Siegfried differently? That is, make your own Lake …

-While I was directing the Monterrey Ballet they asked me to take care of replacing great ballets such as Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty... This type of choreographic work had never crossed my mind, but I saw that I liked doing it. And then i rode Carmen, which had always interested me as a subject.

From there, I found the pleasure of recreating works inspired by dramatic or literary themes. Had already done The Patriotic in Buenos Aires, with the National Contemporary Dance Company, inspired by the figure of José de San Martín; and Whispers in Mexico, about Pedro Paramo, the novel by Juan Rulfo.

I was guided by this other path -distinct from my previous works- and from there my version of Giselle and now this Lake…, which actually I initially wanted to call Odette.

Jorge Amarante Thought That He Would Not Find Incentives In Replacing Works Like El Lago.  He Was Wrong.  Photo Martín Bonetto

Jorge Amarante thought that he would not find incentives in replacing works like El lago. He was wrong. Photo Martín Bonetto

-Why did you think you would not like the task of recreating great classics?

-Firstly, because I danced them. But with mounting Giselle I listened to the music in a different way than when I danced it and I found things in the work that I had not perceived. I didn’t find out so much about ballet or the character of Duke Albrecht, but more about myself.

-Did you say that Odette was your first idea as a title?

-I live surrounded by women (note: he refers to his wife, also a dancer, and his two daughters) and I love working with and on women. I found that the characters of Carmen, Giselle and Odette are all victims and in these works I got into their dramas, so different from each other.

-How did you build the character of Odette?

-She, like her companions, are captured people; and not white but gray swans. Odile, the Black Swan from the original that Von Rothbart uses to fool the prince, is also a victim. As for Odette, she is a rebellious woman, has character and temperament and is always looking for ways to escape from the situation in which she is held captive.

Although it is not evident in an obvious way, Odette is like a victim of human trafficking. Why does Von Rothbart kidnap her if not to use her? In my third and fourth act, the action takes place in the scope of Von Rothbart, a sinister place with shady guests, a kind of brothel.

Amarante Defines Himself Closer To The Neoclassical Than To Any Other Style, Although He Attributes Some Contemporaneity.  Photo Martín Bonetto

Amarante defines himself closer to the neoclassical than to any other style, although he attributes some contemporaneity. Photo Martín Bonetto

A matter of styles and perfect opposites

-How would you define your choreographic style?

-For the classics I am contemporary and for the contemporaries, classic. But I would describe myself as more akin to the neoclassical, although at the same time I use many elements of contemporary dance. In works like the ones we are commenting on, contemporary tools allow me to make the characters more human.

Other versions of The lake…

Now let’s review other productions of Swan Lake with very different perspectives.

In 1976, the admired John Neumeier, director of the Hamburg Ballet, premiered his Lake… inspired by the tragedy of the eccentric King Louis of Bavaria and his unacknowledged homosexuality.

Neumeier used, among other things, the resource of the theater within the theater: the king attends a “private performance” of the second act of Swan Lake, and so the choreographer brings the original choreography to the scene.

It should be added that Luis de Baviera drowned in a lake together with his doctor, and it was never known whether it had been a murder, a double suicide or an accident. In any case, Luis was an excellent swimmer.

The Swede Mats Ek Brought A Psychoanalytic Twist To His Look At The Lake.  Own Photo Clarín

The Swede Mats Ek brought a psychoanalytic twist to his look at The Lake. Own Photo Clarín

In 1987 the great Swedish creator Mats Ek he created his own version with some psychoanalytic twists and turns: Prince Siegfried has a strongly Oedipal relationship with his mother and both reject the idea of ​​marriage. There are female swans and male swans, all barefoot and bald, and several witches, one very much like the queen.

The prince eventually marries the White Swan, but continues to show a silent interest in the Black Swan.

In 1995 British choreographer Mathew Bourne mounted his own version of Swan Lake which was soon very successful. The plot is organized around the figure of Prince Siegfried, his distant mother and the Black Swan, represented by a wicked and handsome bisexual boy and son of the prince’s private secretary.

There is a flock of male swans, very aggressive, and their leader, the White Swan, ends up being the true love of the prince. All these works have preserved the original score by PI Tchaikovsky, but as you can see, only some elements of the plot.

The Swan Lake according to Jorge Amarante goes on Tuesday, November 23 and 30 at 8:30 p.m., at the El Nacional Theater, Corrientes 960.


Reference from clarin