Not All Boy Swans Are The Same

Me: Do you know that this is the first time in a decade that Bourne’s Swan Lake is playing in NY?

CarBoy: No one liked it the last time?

Me: Actually it won Tony’s.

CarBoy: They don’t like to fly internationally?

Me: Perhaps. It might be another 10 years before it comes back again.

CarBoy: Yeap.

Me: Do you know what would be awesome?

CarBoy: If Salma Hayek & Marcelo Gomes were here to bring us another slice of pizza?

Me: That too. But I was thinking we should see Swan Lake again?

CarBoy: Okay.

Me: Really???

CarBoy: Sure, especially since that seems more realistic than sitting around here waiting for Salma & Marcelo.

Me: We saw both of them on my birthday last year.

CarBoy: Some birthdays are disappointing.

Even though it was not actually on my birthday but a few weeks past, our NY trip was in honor of three things: my birthday (thank you), my passing all my PhD comprehensive exams (thank you, thank you), and Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake limited engagement at City Center.

Now I don’t actually “ask permission” before buying tickets to anything but it helps the situation to gain some buy-in and avoid the kicking and screaming later on. So having CarBoy agree to go see the same ballet for a second time in one weekend was fantastic!

In between we saw La Cage Aux Follies and it was okay. Turns out we are really not musical people. Even CarBoy admitted to liking ballet much better than operas and musicals!

Dominic North was again our Prince, but this time our boy swan was Richard Winsor. Reviews said great things about him and truly, he is a great dancer but I found that I preferred the contrast between Dominic North and Jonathan Ollivier a little more. In a way, watching Mr. North and Mr. Winsor dance together gave the story a different dynamic because there were more physical similarities so one could argue that the Prince could identify more quickly with the swan. I was reminded of the pas de deux “Morel et Saint-Loup” from the Roland Petit ballet “Proust ou les Intermittences du Coeur.” The identification and sympathy of one doomed life looking in at another doomed life, both the Prince and the swan captured in confined existences, both angry and saddened by a lack of compassion, of warmth, and of freedom.

Something that has being driven home to me more and more is the singularity of ballet performances. It’s easy to say, I love Giselle or I hate Romeo & Juliet, but the truth is that on any given day with different productions, different companies, different principles, you can have many different stories. I can love this performance of Giselle and hate the next, not just because a dancer did it well or fell on his or her face, but because the interpretation and the presentation can be so different.

I enjoyed both performances of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, but I have to say that I was more moved by Mr. Ollivier’s performance, the contrast between the swan and the Prince felt heavier and headier. I felt Mr. Ollivier presented us with a swan-like swan, that is to say, beautiful and dangerous; graceful and hostile; self-indulgent and all sacrificing.

I’m really grateful to have seen both performances and am already looking forward to it’s return!

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