Posted by Rachel Kim
The Music and Dance Departments and the Office of the dean of Special Programs presented "Swan Lake: Act II" at the Zankel Music Center on April 15 and 16.
Before the orchestra started playing, Jeffrey Segrave, dean of Special Programs, introduced the show. He noted the uniqueness of the performance. "It offers many firsts. It is the first time we have major use of the pit for a joint performance. This is truly an interdepartmental production," Segrave said.
After Segrave spoke, Associate Professor and Conductor of the college's orchestra Anthony Holland honored the senior musicians with an elaborate, heartfelt speech and thanked them for their dedication to the orchestra.
Next, Associate Professor of Dance Denise Limoli provided another introduction to the show, in which she provided a historical background of "Swan Lake: Act II."
"We are making art in our respective forms and bringing it all together for you," Limoli said.
"Swan Lake" tells the story of Princess Odette (Gaia Waisbrod '11) who is cursed by the sorcerer Baron von Rothbart (guest artist David Otto). Prince Siegfried (Jacob Goodhart '12) falls in love with Odette after he sees her by Swan Lake where he is hunting.
The lights in the theater dimmed as the orchestra members in the pit started to tune. They started to play the "Waltz of the Villagers," a lighthearted piece that showcased the abilities of the violinists and flutists as they played quick, flowing notes.
Although this part of the performance only featured the orchestra, without dancers on the stage, the waltz set the mood and prepared the audience for the next act.
The audience applauded at the end of the waltz as the second act began with the Overture. The familiar melody of the clarinet, most recently made famous by "Black Swan," captured the sadness of Odette's fate.
The Prince and his entourage enter the stage and start to hunt in the forest until Siegfried discovers Odette. The others leave as the Prince and Odette playfully chase one another around the stage.
Their dance is interrupted by the evil sorcerer who summons the flock of swans. His presence clearly indicates the powerful control he has over Odette. As the music grows dramatic, the entourage reappears, ready to hunt the swans, but the Prince thwarts their attempts.
The swans part, and the Prince joins Odette and they dance as the concertmistress (Hanna Tonegawa '11) and principal cellist (Meg Ashur '11) engage in a duo that is beautifully and profoundly sad.
The dance and musical duo reflect the conversation between Odette and the Prince, in which she tells him about her curse and the tragic end that their love must face.
The piece then continues to the "Dance of the Four Cygnets," (Julia Clancy '14, Hannah Foster '14, Kate Matthew '14 and Katrina Puffer '13) and the "Dance of the Swan Princesses," (Alison DeFranco '12, Emily Craver '11, Rebecca Greenbaum '11 and Hartley Parish '11).
The choreography and accompanying music of these two scenes captures the beauty of the swans. The cynets and swan princesses are stunning in their costumes, and their performance left everyone watching in awe.
Princess Odette then dances alone on stage with melancholic gracefulness to the music of the orchestra in the pit below. As her solo comes to an end, the entire flock of swans appears and treats viewers to an intricately choreographed and stunningly executed piece.
All of the swans, including Odette, dance in the Coda, "Dance of the Swans," and move together, along with the music with accurate timing. The swans then flutter aside as the Prince declares his love for Odette.
Just as he makes his declaration, however, the evil Sorcerer appears and calls upon his swans. Princess Odette struggles to remain with her Prince, but fails to break free from the sorcerer's grip. She leaves the Prince, heartbroken and alone.
The dancers and the orchestra joined in harmony to successfully retell the tragic love story of Princess Odette and her Prince. The production moved the audience, who applauded between movements and gave a standing ovation at the end of the show.
The performance was dedicated to the late Oleg Moston, who provided piano accompaniment for ballet classes and the Classical Ballet Workshop at the college.
The Dance Department has initiated the Oleg Moston Prize in his honor. Winners of the prize will receive an award that will support their transition into the professional dance world.