Last night I had the chance to witness, once again, the exquisite beauty of the most famous ballet in history, Swan Lake. After seeing the film Black Swan, I was quite inspired to see the ballet again. I learned that it was first performed in 1895 in St. Petersburg by this very same ballet company – Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet. It was it the first ballet I have ever seen – back when I myself was studying ballet at the age of eight. In the days leading up to seeing the performance, I realized that Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake had been my introduction to classical music. I had the casette tape, in fact. I used to dance by myself to this music whenever I wasn't in class dancing to it.
Within the first few minutes of the ballet, I was in tears. Yes, I was that moved. It's amazing how much the music took me back to that exact time in my life and the sense of joy dance gave me (and still does). I remembered that I learned sections of this ballet myself. I remembered feeling overwhelmed when I first saw it onstage and didn't quite understand why it was so moving then. I thought about my first ballet teacher (Vella Damian). I learned recently that she went on to train a few dancers who later became prima ballerinas. I also remembered my mom taking me to every class and how she wouldn't let me cry in front of my teacher whenever I messed up. There is so much memory tied to this and it all rushed back to me the moment orchestra began to play.
The performance last night was so exquisite. It took my breath away. I felt that we, the audience, were witness to such extraordinary beauty and art in those three hours. Not to mention the perfection of the 32 fouette turns by prima ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina. It was absolutely incredible. I thought: this is why dancers learn to dance. This is the ballet that first inspires dancers to dance. And that dance transcends language. Anyone can understand and appreciate it. I felt so fortunate to be witness this level of the art.
Here's a great BBC documentary I found on Swan Lake and it's history. It's a great inside look at the Mariinsky company and the story of the ballet itself. There's also a video of Act 3 of Swan Lake featuring prima ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina's amazing 32 fouette turns.