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 Post subject: Pennsylvania Ballet - Edinburgh Int'l Festival 2005
PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:34 am 
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For discussions, reviews and articles relating to the Pennsylvania Ballet's "Swan Lakee" at the 2005 Edinburgh International Festival.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:36 am 
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Edinburgh Festival Preview
Pennsylvania Ballet in Wheeldon’s Swan Lake
By David Mead for Dancing Times


One of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Festival will surely be Pennsylvania Ballet’s UK premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake. Made for the company in 2004, the $1.5 million (£800,000) production has been a huge success with audiences in the United States. However, how did the production come about and how did Wheeldon, so at home with plotless works to music by such composers as Ligeti and Pärt, approach such a well-loved classic?

Pennsylvania Ballet’s Artistic Director Roy Kaiser explained that although they had previously presented Balanchine’s one-act version of the ballet, the company did not have a full-length Swan Lake in its repertoire.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:40 am 
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Tickets for the final performance on August 19 have sold out, but tickets are available for all other performances.

For those in Edinburgh, there will be 50 tickets for each performance available 1 hour prior to the performance at just £5 a piece. Great deal!

Kate


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:41 am 
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Pennsylvania Ballet Makes its Internatioanl Debut at the Edinburgh International Festival
April 19, 2005

In a unique collaboration, the Company performs Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake
with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio

Pennsylvania Ballet makes its International Debut August 15 to 19, 2005, at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland with six performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s acclaimed Swan Lake, performed with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. This is a unique first-time collaboration between the Company and the orchestra, which will be conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev.

“The directors of the Festival saw our production of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake when we premiered it in Philadelphia in June 2004,” said Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director Roy Kaiser. “They felt that this new take on a classic ballet would particularly appeal to their audiences. This is a big event for us, and it says a lot about the quality of this organization.”

Edinburgh International Festival Director Brian McMaster announced the festival schedule on Thursday, March 17. Additional highlights of this year’s event include the world premieres of three plays commissioned by the Festival and written by Scottish writers: David Harrower, Shan Khan and Chiew Siah Tei; the British staged premiere of John Adams’ rarely performed opera The Death of Klinghoffer; a presentation of the complete stage works of Irish playwright J M Synge; Jonathan Nott conducting a five-concert residency in the Usher Hall with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra; and collaborations between the Dutch National Ballet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Scottish Ballet with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

International audiences will delight in six performances of Pennsylvania Ballet’s re-imagined version of Swan Lake, which features much of the original choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa in 1895, and the crux of the story – the tragic romance of the beautiful Swan Queen trapped by an evil sorcerer who allows her to become human only at night – also remains the same. Mr. Wheeldon changed selected elements of the plot, as well as added original choreography that works cohesively with the traditional elements retained. He also refocused the narrative to be more prominent and realized more through dance and movement than through pantomime. In Mr. Wheeldon’s own words, creating a new version of Swan Lake was to him like “resetting an old diamond heirloom into a contemporary setting.”

Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet, Mr. Wheeldon is perhaps the most sought-after choreographer in the world, being hailed as “the next George Balanchine” by critics and audiences alike. His credits include a variety of repertory and full-length works for Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and New York City Ballet, as well as the Broadway show Sweet Smell of Success and the film Center Stage. Born in Somerset, England, he studied at the Royal Ballet School, and danced as a member of the Royal Ballet for two years before joining New York City Ballet in 1993. He retired as a Soloist in 2000 to concentrate on his choreographic work.

Pennsylvania Ballet’s performances on tour are generously supported by PNC Bank and the William Penn Foundation.
This production was made possible, in part, by the Claneil Foundation; a grant from Dance Advance, a program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by Drexel University; a Cultural Economic Development Grant funded by the Delaware River Port Authority with administrative support provided by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; Louise and Alan Reed; Wachovia; and the William Penn Foundation.

Founded in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival is recognized as one of the most important celebrations of the arts in the world and brings to Edinburgh some of the best in international theater, music, dance and opera. Each festival day kicks off with a chamber concert or recital and is followed by a number of extraordinary events, from symphony concerts to classical ballet, contemporary dance, theater and opera. In between, there are talks, lectures, exhibitions, book and film festivals, and more! The annual event uses all major concert and theater venues in the city. And the arts will really take over the city this year, as the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival will occur at the same time, running August 2 – 29.
The Edinburgh International Festival is supported by The City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Arts Council and EventScotland.

Founded in 1963 by Balanchine student Barbara Weisberger, Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Company’s annual local season features six productions of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. For more information, call 215-551-7000 or visit www.paballet.org.


PENNSYLVANIA BALLET MAKES ITS INTERNATIONAL DEBUT
AT THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake
with the Russian Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio
Vladimir Fedoseyev, conductor

Monday, August 15 through Friday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Ticket prices for festival events start at £6. For additional information, please visit www.paballet.org or www.eif.co.uk. To purchase tickets, please call 44 (0) 0131 473 2000.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 5:51 am 
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Quote:
The thrill of the chassé
by MARY BRENNAN for the Scotland Herald

At the time Wheeldon reckoned it might mean just a year away from London and the Royal Ballet where his dancing – but more importantly his choreography – had made a favourable impression on Kenneth MacMillan and others. Twelve years later and Wheeldon is NYCB's first ever resident choreographer, ...

published: August 8, 2005
more...


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:44 am 
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Quote:
Ballet taking revised 'Swan Lake' abroad

By Lewis Whittington
The Philadelphia Inquirer
August 10, 2005


When Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Roy Kaiser introduced Christopher Wheeldon at a news conference in 2003, it was to talk about how the red-hot British choreographer would reenvision Swan Lake. Wheeldon, then 30 years old, said that he wouldn't be making huge changes in the classically minted 1895 choreography by Russian masters Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.


Click here for more.

The article is accompanied by a slide show of the company rehearsing "Swan Lake".


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:18 am 
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PABallet departs tomorrow for Edinburgh! Merde!
There will be three casts of principles ......Rio Lama Lorenzo with Zachery Hench, Arantxa Ochoa with James Ady and Julie Diana with Yury Yanowsky who is guesting from Boston Ballet.

Cheers to all the dancers and staff :!: It is a beautiful production and deserves to be seen. I hope all that are able to attend will report in......


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:30 am 
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Greetings!

I look forward to seeing the company perform here in Edinburgh! We'll have two critics covering the event and hopefully more people adding their thoughts and opinions.

All the performances are now listed as being sold out - except, of course, for the 50 $5 tickets available 1 hour prior to each performance. I'd advise lining up very early for those tickets!!

So keep your eye on this spot for more news and commentary from PA Ballet in Edinburgh 2005!

Kate


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:26 pm 
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The PA Ballet is keeping a blog, with pictures, during the company's visit to the Edinburgh Festival...

Keep up with all the news at: http://www.paballetjournal.org/


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 6:40 pm 
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Thanks for the heads up! I enjoyed reading about their arrival in Edinburgh and the first day's experiences! This is a great way to enjoy the PABallet from afar.......what a treat :!:


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:33 pm 
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This was meant to be just a few comments, but it's obviously morphed into something much more than that...

To see the Pennsylvania Ballet has already been wonderful in a bittersweet way - to see Christopher Wheeldon, and the dancers, many of whom I saw dance with other companies or at SAB or at the CPYB benefit, makes me a little homesick. Memories of summer evenings in Lincoln Center, late night post -performance drives down I-95 from NYC to PA come to mind. The weather however, I don't miss - 100 degree weather has no redeeming qualities.

Anyway,

"Swan Lake"
Pennsylvania Ballet
August 15, 2005
Edinburgh Festival Theatre


I have to admit, as one who lives smack in the middle of Edinburgh and thus the Edinburgh Festival, that I get a little sick of it all. The endless nights of Tattoo fireworks over my flat, the daily dodging around lost tourists and the general lack of peace & quiet wear thin after a while.

However there are nights when you are reminded why it's all so special - and the opening of Pennsylvania Ballet's "Swan Lake" was one of them. Sadly a full house at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre is rare, but tonight the theatre was full to the brim - a real festive and excited atmosphere.

And the Pennsylvania Ballet delivered. Less than three days after arriving in Edinburgh, they gave an outstanding performance of Christopher Wheeldon's "Swan Lake". Crafted specially for this company of just 40 dancers, the ballet is set in the world of Degas, who was painting his ballerinas at the same time 'Swan Lake' was first being set as a ballet.

We drift back and forth between the rehearsal studio of a Parisian ballet company - rehearsing 'Swan Lake' of course - and the dreams of the principal dancer. So immersed in his role of Siegfried is the dancer, that the lines between reality and fantasy become immensely blurred.

Adrianne Lobel's sets make this transition seamless and stunning - the studio is sketched out with walls and great glass doors. As the focus wavers from reality to the principal's dream world, the walls become translucent, a great foggy sea visible behind. We are neither here nor there - the swans come and out through the doors - and that blurring of the lines makes the ballet all the more fantastical and touching.

The great backdrop of the fog disappearing into a stormy sea reminds me of sailing on the the Maine Coast (or even the sea fog or haar, in Edinburgh), where the fog banks seem to appear out of nowhere, sealing you into a world that is completely featureless - just a boat in the middle of a great blank world. You could be just feet from shore or miles from nearest land, but it all looks the same. And perhaps that's like the principal dancer - so focused on his dancing, that he has become an island, and the swan-dream-world is what finally breaks through his isolation.

This use of the backdrop, blended in with the transparent wall is so effective that I, at least, didn't realize until near the end, that this was Swan Lake was unique in it's a lack of dry-ice fog. But perhaps that's what Wheeldon has grasped - that we don't need to see the literal fog - the fog is in the blur between dreams and real life.

In this "Swan Lake" it is the Patron - the often not entirely well intentioned wealthy man who would help fund the ballet in exchange for being able to wine, dine (and often bed) his favorite ballerina - who becomes the evil Von Rothbart. The patrons kept the ballet going, but it was a 'system' that surely broke many hearts and surely was not in the best interest of any ballerina.

Zachary Hench as the principal dancer displayed noble bearing and impressive ballon, powering through the penultimate series of double tours his the Act III solo. But it was in the his pas de deuxs with his Odette/Odile Riolama Lorenzo that he really shone. Lorenzo seems fairly tall, and is a Odette of both solidity and fraility. Her arms trembled as the Swan's beating wings - a swan that was allowing herself to be vulnerable to Siegfried's love. But there was power - Lorenzo was most impressive in her long balance, held in a stunningly elegant 90 degree pirouette with arms in high fifth. And she maintained the elegance by reaching for Hench's grip before she started to waver, so that the effect was of complete control.

In the opening scene, the men especially stood out, with nice ballon and impressive synchronization in the jumps. Francis Veyette was also of note in the pas de trois.

The third act, the act of the divertissements finds itself in the studio, transformed for a gala dinner. Here in front of the ballerinas, the various patrons and the Patron, the new production of "Swan Lake" is to be formally announced. This is the time for the traditional divertissements, and Wheeldon adds his own unique zing to the various dances. The Russian dance becomes a playful strip tease - the panels of the dancers dress pulling away one by one to reveal black lace undergarments. The pas de quatre and Spanish dance are more traditional, albeit in a 1977 kind of way, but the final dance has been turned into a cheeky can-can (complete with windmmill appliques - ala Moulin Rouge - on the ladies silk dresses.

The centerpiece mirror - essential in any ballet studio as instrument in which to measure oneself, find fault and perfection, becomes the centerpiece here. The Patron's dancers - the divertissement dancers - appear from behind it, their slo-motion dancing casting eery shadows on the backdrop. First Odile appears in the mirror, and then Odette appears in the mirror, a desperate attempt to remind Siegfried of his promise - but perhaps here the black swan Odile has become almost representative of the single-minded, near obsessive focus of a dancer - as in 'Afternoon of a Faun' - the dancer only sees himself in the mirror.

Lorenzo's Odile was manipulatively evil in her sinewy power. The flashing eyes and seductive smile reinforcing her unpleasant intent. In the all important pas de deux, she and Hench were spot on, matching the crescendos of the orchestra. And yes, she did the thirty-two fouettes, mostly singles with doubles thrown in on occasion. Hench's was at his most heart-wrenching in his display of despair at his betrayal of Odette, prostrate in grief as the Patron, now the ghoulish eyes, tattered coat Rothbart, celebrated his triumph.

Since the Pennsylvania Ballet is not large enough to do a full scale swan corps, Wheeldon limited his bevy of swan maidens to 18. Yet with his choreography we don't want for those pleasing lines and clusters of white tutu-ed ballerinas. Wheeldon creates lines that fill the stage, and keep the eye moving so there is no chance to stop and see empty space. Particularly striking is the circular formation, where the swans cluster in, a tightly knit revolving mass of swans. The female corps, though not utter perfection, moved and flowed as one, so the occasional disharmony in the classic bent wrist position wasn't jarring. What was actually most impressive about the corps was the silence - clearly a lot of effort went into preparing every set of pointe shoes because there was stunningly little 'pointe shoe clatter'. These were truly swans that seemed to fly across the stage. It may seem a small matter, but noisy feet can really ground a swan corps.

For his costumes, Wheeldon chose former dancer Jean-Marc Puissant to come up with the designs. Perhaps using his dancing experience, and a clear knowledge of his avian subject, Puissant designed tutus which are longer than the traditional platter tutu, but not so long as to be romantic. These slightly droopy tutus have a very swan like appearance - their movement like the powerful wings of swans - far from the sometimes brittle-seeming classical tutus in many other versions.

What brings the whole ballet together is Wheeldon's clever and moving finale. The drama and tension Hench and Lorenzo brought to the final pas deux could be measured in the absolute silence of the theatre. Perhaps influenced by Peter Martins' recent version, Wheeldon chooses to allow Siegfried & Odette's love to be strong enough to kill Rothbart, but not enough to break the curse. So Odette disappears back into her column of swan maidens (as in Martins' version), leaving Siegfried alone and desolate.

However, as Odette fades away, so does the lake, and we find ourselves back in the studio, the ballerinas in their swan costumes pinning up their hair in preparation for rehearsal. As the principal dancer picks himself up to join them, out from the group steps the ballerina Odette. At the moment of his realization, the curtain drops (unfortunately on this occasion, I fear too soon for those in the upper rings to see the penultimate moment of recognition).

It's this final moment that ties the whole four acts together. Wherever you feel the line between fantasy and reality is drawn, it's a wonderfully touching ending that allows for some hope without the oft super sacchirine endings that plague other Swan Lakes. Siegfried may not get his Swan Maiden, but the principal dancer might have a chance with his ballerina. (And it's not so far from reality - during curtain calls after a recent performance of "Romeo & Julliet" opposite another Odette/Odile, Julie Diana, Hench proposed - diamond ring and all - to Diana. She said yes. So Romeo got his Juliet after all!).


This "Swan Lake" was not a ballet that jumped out and grabbed me from the get go. After Act 1, I was interested, but not sure of where we were going, but by Act 2 I was hooked and ended up enchanted by the ballet. It's not perfect - Wheeldon has moved some of Act II around - I didn't realize this, but there was an odd feeling of occasional disconnect. But in it's unique and refreshing look at an old favorite, it's certainly something to be proud of and a wonderful production for the Pennsylvania Ballet to treasure.

It also seemed to be an auspicious start for the temporary partnership between the company and the Tschaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. Conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev has some ballet appearance, but apparently this was the orchestra's first time playing for a ballet company. Despite a few uneven tempos and the odd out of tune note, the orchestra provided a lush, full sound - and it seems that this partnership is inspired.


As a note, I was intrigued by the number of influences that one could possibly see in Wheeldon's work - in no case was he imitating, but drawing from and creatingt his own. And to see and experience is so important for a choreographer .... In the opening scene with the Degas poses on the benches, a bit of "Le Conservatoire", the swans silhouetted against the backdrop reminiscent of "Etudes", the finale of Odette disappearing into the back stage left corner, like Peter Martins' "Swan Lake", the can-can dancers a tase of Tudor. And perhaps this has some inspiration from early Wheeldon - "Scenes de Ballet" which he did for SAB and "Variations Sereueses", a take off on ballet life, which is in the NYCB rep.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:55 pm 
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"Swan Lake"
Pennsylvania Ballet
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Wednesday evening, the second cast of Pennsylvania Ballet's "Swan Lake" made their second appearance on the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage. It was a striking performance, but lacked the electricity of the opening night.

So often on a big premiere or opening there is a sense of a held breath - a tension - which then is released in the ensuing performances. Here that the exhalation revealed itself in a number of little imperfections in musical timing, set changes and lighting. Yet, it did not detract from the overall power and beauty of the ballet.

Julie Diana and Yury Yanowsky, took over the leads with intriguing results. The first act seemed to be lacking in emotional depth but their characterizations developed as the ballet progressed, culminating in a moving fourth act.

Yanowsky, a guest from the Boston Ballet, has a tidy elegance to his dancing. His strength is in steps that showed off his long line and airy ballon - his final pirouette sequence ended a bit out of balance. As Odette, Diana seemed perhaps overly fragile...even brittle; a nervous, shivering-winged swan. Yet her Odile grew more wily and gleefully seductive as the Act 3 pas de deux progressed. I believe she fell short of the 32 pirouettes, though they were tidy and well-centered until a slightly odd, skiddy ending. As the pas de deux progressed, the partnership between Yanowsky and Diana gained momentum and meaning. Yanowsky was a Siegfired rent with grief at his error.

Act 4 concluded the ballet with a powerful punch. Here Yanowsky and Diana really came together emotionally and technically. The corps too, impressed, Wheeldon's gorgeous formations heaving and fluttering with the musical crescendos. Yanowsky lifted Diana high into the air, a swan hovering in the sky, soon to fly away forever.

Also surprisingly and stunningly worthy of mention was apprentice Jermel Johnson in the 1st act pas de trois. His solo started off almost literally on the wrong foot, with an apparent musical miscommunication, but once it got off the ground, the result was astounding.

Johnson is a tall dancer, blessed with gorgeous LONG, LONG legs and most elegant proportions. Just two years out of the School of American Ballet - he has a ways to develop in terms of control and poise, but when it all comes together, the results will be amazing. In his dancing, he has an easy, loose, lyrical flow, giving the impression that his legs could stretch forever. A prince in the making, and a dancer to keep an eye on in the next few years.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:43 pm 
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Thanks Kate for your wonderful comments. Opening night sounded amazingly charged. I can imagine Julie Diana being a bit nervous at her first time out in this ballet as Odette/Odile. I cannot wait to see her in Philly dance this role. I hope you will catch James and Arantxa too. I think they are a superb match. Cheers to the PABallet corps for all their divine dancing and hard work....I know that this corps work is difficult and they were riviting when I saw them debut this ballet in Philadelphia.

I was truly glad to see many of the critics grasping and enjoying Wheeldon's new twist on this beautiful white classic ballet. His concept with the joining of such imaginative production elements gave me a thrill on my first viewing of this Swan Lake. There is alot to take in and my enjoyment grew with repeated visits.

Bravo, PABallet!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:02 am 
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Greetings

Actually, I believe last night was the second performance for Julie Diana & Yuri Yanowsky. They did one of the Tuesday performances as well - so perhaps also they were tired from the combination of the previous performance, rehearsals and the jet lag really starting to kick in with avengence.

Often, I find that adreneline can keep you going for a couple of days before the jet lag really hits and you just crash. That may be especially true when you're preparing for something as big as their European debut.

Do you know if Yanowsky has peformed "Swan Lake" with the company before or whether Tuesday was his debut in the role? Who were the casts in Philadelphia?

Now, they have two remaining performances before they part ways - some are travelling around and some, presumably, returning back to Philadelphia. A few dancers will also be staying next week to particpate in some educational programs at local primary schools.

And the sets/costumes too will have to make their long journey back across the Atlantic. I do hope that there are no problems along the way, because while a month should be plenty of time for the sets to be shipped back, it's hurricane season and delays can happen. (ABT learned the hard way when their 'Le Corsaire' sets were still in the middle of the Pacific when they were supposed to be doing the ballet in Boston!)

Kate


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2005 6:47 am 
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Quote:
Swan Lake
by ALICE BAIN for the Guardian

Making its European premiere this week, Swan Lake is the work of a 21st-century gentleman, a drawing-room ballet, steeped in impressionist colour with Frederick Ashton polish. No wild woods or hunting scenes - most of the action takes place in the hot-house atmosphere of Parisian society (the claustrophobia is lifted near the end in a dreamy scene of misty waves).

published: August 17, 2005
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