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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Russian ballet expertise expected in famed ‘Swan Lake’ in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Weidner Center for the Performing Arts

Scene from Russian Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.” (Company photo)Scene from Russian Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.” (Company photo)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)

Russian Ballet Theatre this week visits the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts with “Swan Lake.”

The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in Cofrin Family Hall of the center. Info: weidnercenter.com.

The performance is billed as a new production of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic.

According to the website: Choreographer Nadezhda Kalinina (Mariinsky Theatre, Teatro Lirico, Omsk State Music Theatre) retouches the oldest St. Petersburg version of the ballet and adds her vision and something more.

Russian Ballet Theatre’s dancers bring her choreography to life along with the new hand-painted sets and 150 new hand-hewn costumes.

Designed by Sergei Novikov (Mariinsky Theatre, Omsk State Music Theatre, St. Petersburg State Music Hall), the look is in the century-old tradition of the great theatrical masters.

SFX (prosthetic or special effect) makeup by award-winning Irina Strukova (“Crazy Rich Asians,” Netflix, HBO) completes a glittering fantasy.

Russian Ballet Theatre is collaborating with Plus 1, an initiative that connects artists with causes. So, $1 per ticket sold goes to funding Green Bay public school teachers’ needs through DonorsChoose.org.

Although this is a different production, an overview applies from my review of the 2017 visit by the Russian Grand Ballet with “Swan Lake” to the Weidner Center:

America is master of jazz and musical theater. Russia is master of classical ballet.

Artistic athletic precision is compounded by steely stamina that the Russian dancers launch.

In the “Swan Lake” story, the prima ballerina plays two characters. The story is far-out folk tale/myth: Young Siegfried is to marry. During pondering down by the lake, he spots Odette, who by day is an elegant swan and by night takes human form. It’s night, and love blooms. Come time for Siegfried to tell his mother of his choice in marriage, the evil sorcerer who messed up Odette tricks Siegfried into believing his (the sorcerer’s) daughter, Odile, is his true love. Gulled by the black swan Odile, Siegfried appears to be unfaithful to the white swan Odette. Realization and a battle with the evil sorcerer set things right.

Odette (in white), is a graceful, loving/adoring figure. Odette is graceful.

Odile (in black) is an energized figure up to conniving/no good. Odile is a whirlwind.

Tchaikovsky’s music plays a dominant role, with the main theme appearing many times but most importantly in three degrees. First, the theme has a yearning and haunting flow as an expression of Siegfried’s soul at a turning point in his life. When evil sorcerer Von Rothbart appears, the theme takes on darker, edgier colors. In its third degree, the theme extends the dark in different shadows to flesh out the character of Odile. The finesse in that music is one of the reasons “Swan Lake” has been around for more than 140 years.

All is played out with large-scale backdrops. Expect the costuming to be as splashy and colorful as the dancing.

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