Matthew Bourne, director and choreographer of Adventures in Motion Pictures--a maverick new modern dance company based in London--brings a new twist to an old classic with this production of "Swan Lake." Taking advantage of the public's preoccupation with the ups and downs of the royal family, Bourne has set his story in the modern era and has cast all the swans--including the Odette/Odile role--as males. Boutne's creation brings great ballet to an audience it has never before reached, and for cognoscenti offers a new view of the breadth of possibilty in Tchaikovsky's well-loved score. "Swan Lake" enjoyed a sold-out run in London and a subsequent critically acclaimed and public-adored Broadway stint.
became an unexpected popular hit when radical choreographer Matthew Bourne took Tchaikovsky's traditional ballet by the scruff of the neck and reworked it with a myriad of modern influences and themes to astonishing effect. Seldom have the dark psychological riptides at the heart of so many classical ballets been so brilliantly exposed. The Prince (Scott Ambler) is a wretched and dissolute young man dominated by his mother, the Joan Collins-like Queen (Fiona Ambler). Shades of Tennessee Williams, indeed. Von Rothbart becomes a press secretary, more sinister eminence grise
than hissable villain. Most startling of all, the Swan (Adam Cooper) is a muscular, emphatically masculine male.
Bourne has stressed the universality of his interpretation, which proved such a success for his Adventures in Motion Pictures dance company. And indeed this is never an overtly "gay" Swan Lake, although the electricity of the pas de deux at the height of Act 2 delivers a palpably homoerotic charge. Its universal threads--as Bourne suggests, the need to be held and understood is common to us all--are synthesized in the utterly moving conclusion as the Swan cradles the lifeless Prince and raises him to a better place. Swan Lake becomes a human, rather than simply romantic, tragedy. --Piers Ford