By Avery Dall-Hilton
This February, Swan Lake is being performed by Ballet West at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City. There’s nothing quite like going to the ballet. People from all over the state pull out their best clothes and brave downtown traffic to be floored by one of the best ballet companies in the country. Swan Lake is a work well known by ballet-lovers and casual observers alike. With its classic composition by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Adam Sklute (original choregraphy by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov), the ballet has made its mark in history. Even if you’ve never seen it or heard the music, you might know recognize the story from the 1994 cartoon, The Swan Princess.
The story follows a melancholy prince (Adrian Fry) searching for love when he comes across a lake with enchanted swans who used to be young maidens. He falls madly in love with Princess Odette (Emily Adams), the leader of the enchanted swans, and must find a way to break the spell that holds them hostage. What follows is an adventure of love, loss, betrayal, deception, and sacrifice that eventually leads to a happy ending.
The outstanding Adams leads the cast as Odette/Odile, a challenging role that demands the portrayal of the gentle princess, but also the cunning and wicked villain. The audience is awed by Adams’ skill and poise as she brings stunning technique and artistry to the roles.
Sharing the spotlight is Fry as Prince Siegfried. Fry is a force to behold as he takes control of the stage during every solo performance. Together, Adams and Fry create a beautiful balance of strength and beauty as they effortlessly execute each incredibly challenging pas de deux (duet).
Another outstanding performance comes in the form of a pas de trois (trio) performed by principal dancers Amy Potter, Jenna Rae Herra, and Jordan Veit. The three dance in perfect harmony, each taking their moment as soloists and partners, creating a truly memorable moment in the show.
It’s always such a pleasure to have a live orchestra in any production and Jared Oaks (music director) and the musicians do not disappoint. They bring Tchaikovsky’s timeless score to life with vibrancy and extreme care. Several notable and iconic instruments solos are particularly wonderful to experience first-hand such as the harp, clarinet, violin, and flute solos.
The audience is particularly enchanted by the strong and impressive corps of swans that fill the stage in all their glory. The dancers form intricate patterns and formations, moving in perfect sync, making difficult steps look effortless. A crowd favorite is the dance of the Cygnets (or the Four Swans Dance). Stella Birkinshaw, Jazz Khai Bynum, Kazlyn Nielsen, and Lexi McCloud do a beautiful job with the iconic part, moving in perfect unison with the added difficulty of maintaining their hands interlocked with each other.
The costumes and set, both designed by Peter Cazalet, add to the beauty of each dancer on stage. The sets are larger than life and transport us right into a fairy tale. I was particularly impressed by the costumes for Baron von Rothbart. As the villain of the ballet, Cazalet transforms dancer Tyler Gum into a terrifying bird creature. Both Gum and Cazalet’s skills shine in the evil sorcerer’s remarkable portrayal.
We celebrate the tremendous effort and beautiful passion that went into producing this one-of-a-kind experience for Utah theatre goers. Artistic Director Adam Sklute, Executive Director Michael Scolamiero, Principal Rehearsal Director Pamela Robinson Harris, along with the late Mark Goldweber (additional choreography) have created something truly special.
If you love going to the ballet, have never been, or even feel a little apprehensive about the idea, I encourage you to attend Ballet West’s Swan Lake this season! Younger patrons can anticipate a treat just inside the lobby: A genuine tutu worn in Taylor Swift’s music video for “Shake It Off!” No matter your age, experiencing this stunning production of Swan Lake will leave you hoping for another visit with Ballet West.
A review by Front Row Reviewers. Ballet West
Presents Swan Lake.
Capitol Theater, 50 W 200 S Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States
February 9-17 7:30pm and 2:00pm
Ballet West Facebook
Photos provided by Beau Pearson