Strictly Come Dancing on Swan Lake
Last saturday night on Strictly Come Dancing, professional dancer and current Strictly champion Artem Chigvintsev pushed the boundaries of the show further than ever with his celebrity dance partner Holly Valance.
Artem made a unique choice with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake music and as this was Halloween week, took inspiration for the costumes from the movie Black Swan. Artem’s own costume and make-up heavily references Matthew Bourne’s powerful all male version of Swan Lake.
So why was using the music from Swan Lake considered risky ?
Swan Lake was first performed as a ballet in 1877 in Moscow but wasn’t well received.
Tchaikovsky died before it could be successfully re-staged, and so he never saw how popular and enduring it would become.
The dual role of Odette/Odile (White Swan, Black Swan) is the most challenging in the ballet repertoire as the dancer has to take on two entirely different characters.
It’s the ballroom Act 111 that most people are familiar with, and where the ‘Black Swan’ references are to be found. Here the dancer must master 32 fouettes – most likely they will be counted by knowledgeable audience members. The fouettes themselves are not especially challenging, but they come at the end of a long period on-stage where the ballerina has danced a pas de deux with her partner and a solo, so it’s tiredness that is the challenge here.
Here you can see Marianela Nuñez, a Principal with The Royal Ballet, dancing the 32 fouettes :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xNqbvNx_C8&feature=fvwrel
It’s also true that in The Royal Ballet’s version of Swan Lake, the whole ballet is very much danced on one leg – the left – making those fouettes even tougher.
On top of that, Artem chose an iconic piece of music that has been danced to in so many ways and often parodied. For example, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo have their own, excellent, but very different version of the story. In Radio City Christmas Spectacular, The Rockettes do a short homage to Swan Lake, in Episode 213 of The Muppet Show, Rudolf Nureyev performs Swine Lake with a giant ballerina pig and the 1990 LucasArts adventure game called Loom used a major portion of the Swan Lake suite for its audio track.
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