Swan Lake' collaboration to take the stage at Zankel

Posted by Rachel Kim

On April 14 and 15, the college orchestra and the dance department's classical ballet workshop will be performing "Swan Lake" at the Zankel Music Center.

The dance performance, which was staged by associate professor Denise Warner Limoli, is based on Lev Ivanov's 1895 restaged choreography of the second act of the original ballet.

This particular performance is unlike others. For the first time, the orchestra and ballet can join one another in performance because of the amount of space that the Zankel Music Center has to offer.

"This is the first time we've been able to do something that really incorporates the orchestra and dancers," Julia Grigel '11, the percussionist said.

"Swan Lake," written by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, is a ballet about Odette, a princess who, after being cursed by the evil sorcerer Rothbart, lives as a swan by day and a beautiful maiden by night. This curse can only be broken by the power of eternal love.

Prince Siegfried, the lead male dancer role, is gifted a new crossbow from his mother and goes hunting. He stumbles onto Swan Lake where meets Odette and falls in love with her.

Since the publication of the original ballet, many different revivals and productions have been made. The version of Tchaikovsky's ballet that will be performed focuses on this part of the ballet.

Before the ballet dancers come out, the orchestra will be performing its own piece in the pit below the stage.

"The orchestra is first doing the overture, which is in the first act. Then the ballet dancers come on stage," violinist Jane Esterquest '13 said.

The performance will then move onto the second act where Siegfried meets Odette.

"It's sort of a conversation between Siegfried and Odette. She explains to him about the spell she has," cellist Meg Ashur '11 said.

The middle of the piece will feature a solo shared between Ashur and violinist Hanna Tonegawa ‘11. This solo will be accompanying the dance between the main ballet dancers playing Siegfried and Odette.

"It's really a beautiful, romantic dance that's very graceful and even kind of sad. They fall in love, but she has to tell Siegfried about the spell," Tonegawa explained.

This new type of collaboration forced orchestra members to pay more attention to maintaining the tempo in accordance with the choreography.

"It's a unique experience for the orchestra because it's rare for the tempo to matter this much. It's kind of a nice challenge because the tempo is so important to the dancers," Grigel said.

Because of this new challenge, steps were made to ensure that the orchestra's music matches up with the ballet dancers.

"Everyone got a recording and listened to it and Dr. Holland kept the choreographer's directions in mind," Ashur said.

Limoli joined the orchestra's most recent rehearsal and provided directions to prepare the group for when it would rehearse with the dancers.

"She sat on the stage where the dancers would be and Dr. Holland watched as we watched him and played," Tonegawa said.

Performers would have to focus on conductor and music director Anthony Holland, just as in any situation, but with more attention.

Tickets for "Swan Lake" are now on sale and can be purchased online at skidmore.showclix.com.

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