Christopher-Jean Maillot’s LAC (after Swan Lake) & Les Ballets de Monte Carlo at the New York City Center….
Re-working a classic story ballet such as Swan Lake is a risk, a great risk, but Christopher-Jean Maillot’s LAC (after Swan Lake) and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo have done just that. Mr. Maillot has created a fresh face for a centuries old ballet. One may ask, “Why do this?” and one may answer “Why not…”
After all, historically speaking this would not be the first time Swan Lake has been recreated. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, composed in 1875 as a commission by Vladimir Petrovich Begichev, the intendant of the Russian Imperial Theatres in Moscow was a bit of a flop. Much like Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, that Swan Lake was unsuccessful after its first year of performance.
Tchaikovsky’s score was considered too complicated, dancing to it was difficult and the original choreography by Julius Reisinger, the German ballet master for the Ballet of Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre was considered drab, nothing to write home about. No remaining records exist of that version of Swan Lake, just random mentions in surviving letters from that period.
It wasn’t until after Tchaikovsky’s death (1893) that Swan Lake was revived. Much of the Swan Lake we know of today is from that revision by the famous choreographers Petipa and Ivanov that was first performed in 1895.
Mr. Maillot, with the assistance of the award-winning French novelist Jean Rouaud acting as dramaturge, has created a hip and current retelling of the 1895 classic… infused with light battling dark, good versus evil.
The story begins with a grainy black and white film, a remembered time when the prince as a young boy is on a picnic with the King and Queen (who are masked…) to celebrate his birthday. They meet a very pretty girl, all in white, they also come in contact with a darkly attired woman and her little girl. The Prince becomes immediately infatuated with the young girl in white as she coyly gives him a kiss on the check. Pandemonium ensues as the white clad young girl is swept away by black clad winged creatures that are in league with the dark clad woman…
The film ends and the ballet beings in the midst of a Grand Ball, The Majesty of Night, (Maillot’s version of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart), excellently portrayed by April Ball, appears in all her glory with her two male and very sexy Black Angels (Christian Tworzyanski and Ediz Eroguc). In tow is also the Black Swan (Noelani Pantastico), who has been transformed into a young girl. Tensions arise for the Majesty of Night is rumored to have had a romantic tryst with the King (Gabriele Corrado) and some even whisper that he may be the father to the Black Swan. Needless to say, the Queen (Mi Deng) is less than thrilled she has shown up.
Lucien Postlewaite was everything a romantic prince should be, handsome and heroic, his dancing superb especially during the touching duet with the White Swan, Anjafa Ballesteros. Ms. Ballesteros portrayed a creature that was noble but touched somewhat by sadness. You felt her plight and your emotions went out to her.
Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s impeccable sets must be mentioned for he has created a world of where dreams could come alive. He played on light and dark, gray was not a color but became a mood. The meeting place between the Prince and the White Swan seemed more a place of purgatory where purity struggled to exist.
Philipe Guillotel’s costumes were the bow that completed the package. He was able to use the concept of classical costumes, tutus and tiaras without becoming lost in them. He updated them so they were current and on trend. For the swans their arms were transformed in to the suggestion of wings, where there would be fingers were now feathers. The Majesty of Night was costumed in a way that made her seem bigger than life, more menacing but still beautiful.
The Majesty of Night’s accomplices, the Black Angels were demonic and yet very sexy. If you were to encounter them outside the theater…for a confusing moment you may question…. should you flee for your life or perhaps ask them out for for a drink…talk about internal struggle.
Christopher-Jean Maillot’s LAC (after Swan Lake) has all the makings of a modern day classic. A Swan Lake that today’s generation can embrace. A world of intrigue, fashion, sex and daring…