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French visionary Preljocaj's ballet 'Swan Lake' brings ecological narrative to timeless classic

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : June 7, 2023 - 18:20

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Angelin Preljocaj's Angelin Preljocaj's "Swan Lake" (LG Arts Center)

French modern ballet choreographer Angelin Preljocaj brings his new take on the canonical classical ballet “Swan Lake” to the LG Arts Center from June 22-25.

Preljocaj’s rendition of “Swan Lake” premiered in France in October 2020 as the visionary choreographer’s third production of narrative ballet, following “Romeo and Juliet” (1996) and “Snow White” (2008).

Dancer-choreographer Preljocaj has been at the forefront of contemporary ballet dance for over 40 years. He has received prestigious accolades as a choreographer including Benois de la Danse in 1995 and was named Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French government in 1998.

Combining Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece with contemporary imagination, Preljocaj has reinvented the timeless tale of love into an ecological tragedy.

Angelin Preljocaj's Angelin Preljocaj's "Swan Lake" (LG Arts Center)

The narrative revolves around an industrialist who wants to exploit fossil fuels found near a beautiful lake as well as a swan who falls victim to environmental devastation. Evil sorcerer Rothbart is portrayed as a real estate businessman, while enchanted Princess Odette becomes an environmental activist and Prince Siegfried is the son of a wealthy developer.

One night, as Odette takes a stroll by the lake, she comes across a corrupt businessman and evil wizard, Rothbart, who has been seeking ways to exploit the fossil fuel reserves surrounding the lake. He fears that Odette may interfere with his plans and turns her into a swan.

Preljocaj has incorporated a contemporary industrial and financial perspective into the original narrative, while also introducing new characters, including Siegfried’s parents. Siegfried, who is set to inherit his father’s legacy, discovers a disconcerting scheme to construct a factory on the lake’s shores. The eco-conscious hero confronts his father and tries to thwart the plan.

Angelin Preljocaj's Angelin Preljocaj's "Swan Lake" (LG Arts Center)

The stage undergoes transformations through the interplay of video and lighting. Video artist Boris Labbe spearheads the video design while Eric Soyer handles the lighting.

The costume is the work of Russian fashion designer Igor Chapurin, who drew inspiration from origami to create white layered tutus for the swans.

The music mostly consists of Tchaikovsky’s original compositions, accompanied by a selection of modern pieces that incorporate fast-paced beats.

The standout moments will be the group dance scenes featuring 25 ensemble members who evoke the dynamic presence of wild swans on the lake, and the grand ball scene where they will perform sequences while seated on chairs.