Swan Lake Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome

The first ballet that we attended with our season tickets was Swan Lake. We were both familiar with the story ahead of time, but Frances had never seen Swan Lake as a ballet, and Lynne hadn’t seen it since she was a child. We arrived in good time and settled into our seats. We were on the balcony, but about half way down, so the view was good. The orchestra  began to warm up and Lynne took our her binoculas. As they played familiar songs from the Swan Lake musical score, we looked at what instruments we could see (having played the Franch Horn for many years, Lynne watched them).

We waited with baited breath as the curtain rose and the first act began. The ballet began with the Prince Siegfried being entertained by Courteseans and his friend. The Prince mostly watched, and acted a little spoiled, while the Courteseans danced together and separately. Then his friend danced, followed by each Courtesean separately again. The Prince jumped in and danced too, every now and again. His mother arrived and indicated that he must marry. We laughed at how the Prince’s friend seemed to be trying to woo him, too. The end of the first act saw the Prince gather his Lords and head down to the lake to hunt the swans.

The second and third acts saw the Prince arrive at the lake and meet the White Swan, Odette, and the other swans. We assumed that she was already in her human form because of the way she danced. We used the binoculars to watch some of their dance moves more closely. The costumes were really beautiful close up. We have to say that the Odette was rather emaciated. We actually prefered watching from a distance, unless we wanted to see a lift close up. The ballet with just the Prince and Odette was wonderful, but we actually loved the larger group of swans all dancing together more. The patterns they made on the stage, and how they danced in synchrony and asynchrony was lovely to watch. After many dances, Von Rothbart (the evil wizard) appeared and took Odette away, turning her back into her bird form.

The Prince returned to the castle, and there seemed to be some kind of party happening. Different royal families arrived and each one took a turn to dance for the Prince. Each family was from a different country and their dances represented their countires. We particularly enjoyed this part of the ballet. The costumes were elaborate and each dance seemed better than the last. Each family introduced a potential bride for the Prince. He turned down each one, much to his mother’s annoyance. Then Von Rothbart appeared with his court, all dressed in black. He presented a girl that the prince assumed was Odette but was actually Von Rothbart’s own daughter, Odile (the Black Swan, dressed in black), made to look like Odette. The Prince and the Black Swan dance together. After watching the movie, Black Swan, with Natalie Portman, we expected the Black Swan to dance very differently to the White Swan. While the movements of the Black Swan did seem freer, there wasn’t much difference. While the Prince and the Black Swan danced, a window at the back of the stage light up, and you could see Odette dancing, trying to warn the Prince. The act ended as the Prince agreed to marry the Black Swan. He is then told that he has agreed to marry the Black Swan, not the White Swan. The act ends as he rushes off to find Odette and explain.

When the curtains rose for the fourth and fifth act, smoke had filled the stage completely. Although Lynne was already expecting the Swans to be underneath the smoke, Frances was not. That was the best moment of the entire ballet. The Swans danced together, again producing some of the beautiful patterns already mentioned. The Prince finds the White Swan and tries to explain. The White Swan tries to leave, but they end up dancing together and embracing. At this part in the ballet, both the White Swan and the Prince did pirouettes. We lost count at how many they did, but there was an impressive amount! Von Rothbart tries to break them apart, only for Odette to run up the steps and jump into the river. The Princes fights off Von Rothbart and follows her into the river. The ballet ends with the Prince’s friend running onto the stage looking for him. We both chuckled at this point because he seemed really upset, too much for a simple friendship.

Final Verdict: We would definitely recommend that you see Swan Lake at least once in your life.

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