November 12, 2013

My first Swan Lake

After spending hours mooning over videos of Swan Lake, I finally went to watch it live at the Staatsballett Berlin yesterday, with Iana Salenko playing Odette/ Odile. When you see something in one form and are then bombarded with it in the flesh, it can be rather disconcerting. However, it is also amusing.


  • Swan Lake or Horse Lake? Watching ballet videos, you have no clue how noisy pointe shoes can actually be. So the swans are at it, making these fluid, beautiful movements, making you feel sorry for them - but that requires some suspension of disbelief, because they sound like a traffic jam of horse-drawn carriages. 
  • For the first ten minutes, I kept expecting dancers to trip on their nightgown like-dresses. Thankfully, they didn't. In general, there were some conflicting costume ideas - men and women were dressed to fit into different centuries.
  • Talking of dress, Siegfried's tutor (if I correctly identified the hulking/sulking man who dances a duet with Konigin) looked like he had escaped from the bank that's across the road from the Deutsche Oper. And stolen someone's pants on his way to the theatre. I have never seen such ill-fitting pants on stage in a long time. He danced beautifully but the pants were his undoing.
  • I liked the scenes between ill-fitting pants and Siegfried, where they fought while dancing something that I'd like to call a pas de deux (but I'm not sure if it'd actually qualify as one). 
  • Till the very end, Von Rothbart was a random man behind a screen, waving obviously fake cloth wings. Initially, I thought this was a surprise Matthew Bourne-esque male Odette/ Odile, but turns out it wasn't! His wavy arms reminded me of the drill we performed on sports day, back in school.
  • I've been watching staid versions where Odile just laughs when Siegfried promises her eternal love. But, in this one, Odile and Von Rothbart come back to Siegfried to say aye popat! before they disappear. In the background, Odette is fluttering so madly - I'm not sure if she was trying to lose feathers or was just really upset.
  • We all know that everyone dies (in life and in Swan Lake). But why die so thanda? Odette just dances her sad duet with Siegfried, says chalo ji main chalti hoon and flutters away with her swans. She doesn't even give Siegfried time to run after her. Then, Von Rothbart appears, in the flesh, finally, and discards his wings before fighting Siegfriend. He dies like Gulshan Grover. Siegfried looks at Von Rothbart's body with such yearning, that I began to wonder if the two of them were in love. Then he also says, "Fuck it. What's the point? The party is over. I'm going to go lie down in this white smoke too." (lots of white smoke from wings) Konigin comes and shakes his dead body with such vigour, she should take over from Raakhee in Bollywood.

1 comment:

Maithily said...

Absolutely refreshing. A special mention for introducing the existential idea of death - 'We all know that everyone dies (In life and in Swan Lake)'Bravo!Slow clap applause