These swans can kick your donkey

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These swans can kick your donkey

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Matthew Bourne39s Swan Lake. Provided by the organizer

Most people, when they think of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” picture ballerinas with fluffy tutus and pointy shoes floating noiselessly around the stage.
However, the “Swan Lake” that will be performed this summer at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong is a different animal. In Matthew Bourne’s groundbreaking production the swans are played by men.
Bourne’s first performance of his Swan Lake was in 1995. Since then the show, which he choreographed and directed, has been touring the world. It first arrived in Korea in 2003 and came again in 2005, both events taking place at the LG Arts Center.
For the upcoming performances, Bourne has cast two principals ― Thomas Whitehead, a soloist from London’s Royal Ballet, and Simon Williams, a world-renowned dancer, will play the swan on alternate nights. Christopher Marney has been cast as the crown prince.
Parts of the story are roughly based on the Russian classic, in that the ballet is still about forbidden love. However, Bourne has made changes in the dramatic focus of Tchaikovsky’s original.
The original plot follows the story of Crown Prince Siegried, who is upset about not having the freedom to select the lover of his choice. In despair, he escapes the royal court and finds himself in a forest, where he encounters a swan, who turns out to be Princess Odette. She has been captured by the evil one and is under a magic spell that causes her to be a swan by day and a woman by night. Compared to the original story line, the focus of Bourne’s “Swan Lake” is not on the romance in the male-female relationship but on each character’s strength and beauty.
For example, the lead swan is seen as being charismatic and free rather than beautiful and feminine and acts as an “alter ego” to the prince. Tchaikovsky’s music has also been adapted to fit the modern Swan Lake.
According to the producer’s press release, Bourne says that since both swan and prince are played by men, some see this performance as being homoerotic.
However, Bourne stresses that audiences should concentrate more on the form in that his production is both dance and play and creates a “dance theater.”
This is why Bourne sees himself more as a director, creator or storyteller than as a choreographer.
Jean Kim, the PR manager of LG Arts Center says, “Depending on the casting of the swan, the performance can be as exciting and also not as much,” she continues, “This time, it’s Thomas Whitehead.”
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake will be performed at the LG Arts Center (Yeoksam Station line No. 2, exit 7), southern Seoul, from July 4 to 22 at 8 p.m. weekdays (except for July 5, when the shows will be at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and July 17 when the performance is at 6 p.m.) and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekends. There are no performances on Mondays. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.


By Lee Eun-joo Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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