This week, Fine Art Tuesday’s topic is dance.
OMG, am I in trouble.
Honestly, I know very little about dance as an art form. I know more about it as a drunken young man, but that was probably not artistic.
There is, however, one form of dance that is both artistic and that I have always admired because of the grace and athleticism involved-ballet. And the one ballet that I have actually seen from end-to-end is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Tchaikovsky, born in 1840, wrote 3 ballets during his career. Swan Lake was written in 1875-76 and was first performed in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. There are a number of stories about how and why Swan Lake came to be written, although there seems to be agreement that Tchaikovsky was 800 rubles for the work.
The story of Swan Lake begins with Prince Siegfried celebrating his birthday. The celebration is interrupted by his mother who declares her son must select a bride by the next evening. Apparently somewhat drunk and rather despondent, his friend Benno suggests they go swan hunting to take his mind off his troubles.
Just before he shoots at a swan, his target transforms into the beautiful Odette, who tells him she and the other swans are all actually beautiful maidens who have been transformed into swans by the evil Rothbart. Swans by day and human at night at one single lake, the spell can be broken by one who has never loved and who swears to love Odette forever. Siegfried falls head over heals in love with Odette, and hatches a plan to break to spell she and the others are under.
Yes, the story line has been done to death. Go with it.
The next evening, Siegfried is presented with several princesses, including Rothbart’s daughter, disguised as Odette. Siegfried, blinded by fake Odette’s beauty and ignoring the warning of the real Odette, declarse his love for fake Odette. Rothbart, who is a real bastard of a villain, shows him a magic vision of the real Odette at the lake. Siegfried finally understands how he has been taken and runs to the lake.
Once at the lake, Siegfried finds Odette broken hearted, as she knows her best chance at having the spell broken has failed. Choosing to die rather than live any longer as a swan, Siegfried joins with her and they drown themselves in the lake. Their death releases the other maidens from the spell and kills Rothbart. Because magic, you know?
And no one had to kiss a frog.
Hokey though the story sounds, on stage it’s actually quite pleasant to watch. If nothing else, the music is Tchaikovsky, which means it’s worth the time just to listen, even if the story bores you to death. Of course, your death will not magically free any be-spelled beautiful maidens, I suspect.
I’ll leave you with the 2005 performance of Swan Lake by the American Ballet Theater. I’ve not seen this staging, and I know that various ballet companies take some liberties with the above story line. But still, it’s worth a couple of hours of your time.
What I’m going to do the next time this topic rolls around is anyone’s guess, because I have now exhausted my knowledge of dance as art. Unless you want to hear about the aspiring ballerina I once dated?