‘Swan Lake’ stays faithful to original: Moscow Festival Ballet dancers adhere to timeless choreography

The Moscow Festival Ballet, founded in 1989 by Bolshoi Ballet Sergei Radchenko, will bring the classic Russian ballet “Swan Lake” to Penn State.
The Moscow Festival Ballet, founded in 1989 by Bolshoi Ballet Sergei Radchenko, will bring the classic Russian ballet “Swan Lake” to Penn State. Photo provided

Swan Lake” has dazzled fans of classical ballet around the world for generations. Next week, Moscow Festival Ballet troupe will perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece at Eisenhower Auditorium.

Having premiered in Moscow in 1877, the story of an evil sorcerer placing a curse on the beautiful Princess Odette and turning her into a swan to keep her away from her beloved Prince Siegfried is depicted via an epic score and mesmerizing choreography.

Currently on its sixth tour through the United States, the Moscow Festival Ballet was established in 1989 by legendary Russian choreographer Sergei Radchenko, whose influence has helped to ensure that his vision of “Swan Lake” is as authentic as possible.

“Our production of ‘Swan Lake’ is as close to the original as we can be. Of course we have modern technology to assist us with the appearance of the show, for instance in the lighting, which enhances it, but ours is a truly classical Russian Ballet production,” said Alexander Daev, the organization’s ballet master and assistant artistic director. “We are faithful to the original ballet and we follow Lev Ivanov, Maruis Petipa and Yuri Grigorovich’s choreography as it has been handed down through the generations. There is no improvisation in our production.”

The ballet is a unique spin on a story that has been told countless times. However, the themes are still relevant to contemporary audiences and the production feels as fresh as it did when it first took the stage close to 140 years ago.

“ ‘Swan Lake’ is a story about the powers of goodness and love overcoming adversity and the forces of evil,” Daev said. “This is what all of humanity strives and wishes for. Hence it is a ballet that has been very popular since its creation; its universal theme is timeless.”

It’s the pageantry and artistry that bring this story to life. In addition to the mind-blowing visuals of the sea of bodies contorting in unison on stage, telling this tale strictly through a dance and music allows for an unparalleled level of unique expression to bloom before the eyes

“Tchaikovsky’s brilliant emotional music, the beautiful sets, lighting and costumes all create an atmosphere and mood that is magical, and our wonderful dancers then bring the magnificent choreography to life,” Daev said. “ ‘Swan Lake’ is a fantasy inspired by swans. They are beautiful, strong, graceful and mysterious. I can’t think of any other form of expression which captures the essence of swans better than ballet. The dancers express all of the emotions felt by the characters in the plot so all are easily recognizable.”

“Ballet is special because of its very strict rules of technique,” Daev said. “Once ballet technique is mastered, the dancer then has a finely tuned instrument with which to tell a story.”

State College is fortunate to host such a renowned troupe. The Moscow Festival Ballet is at the pinnacle of the dance profession and should not be missed.

“It’s going to be a wonderful evening at the ballet,” Daev said. “The audience will be taken out of their everyday lives and transported into a world of fantasy and beauty. They don’t have to go to Russia to see a magnificent classical Russian ballet; we are happy to be bringing it to you.”