The conflict between following your heart or the practical path in life is a tough one.
And in Irene Schneider’s modern rendition of the Russian ballet Swan Lake, the path may take a more sinister swerve as she explores the human emotion of romantic love contrasted against the realistic and practical one of an arranged marriage.
Swan Lake was originally composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between 1875-76 and tells the story, in four acts, of a princess named Odette, who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse.
The ballet starts off introducing the audience to Siegfried, who is upset that he is not allowed to marry for love. In the original ballet, he goes hunting with his friend Benno to lift his spirits.
However, when he aims his crossbow at one of the swans, she turns into a beautiful maiden, Odette, who tells him they are swans by day and can only take human form at night.
The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever.
In Schneider’s version, the white swan comes to Siegfried in his dream, embodying the ideal of true love, while Odile, the black swan, is presented by the evil Rothbarth as the woman Siegfried is supposed to wed.
Maple Ridge ballerina Gabriela Mores will be playing one of the four little swans in the Coastal City Ballet production, the Italian princess and Pas de Trois.
Mores has been dancing for 14 years. She did tap for a while, but she admits that she enjoys watching it more than dancing it. She has also tried contemporary, jazz, hip hop and modern.
But it was ballet that tugged at her heartstrings ever since she was three years old.
“I always asked my mom that I wanted to do ballet and she thought, ‘She’s just a little kid, she doesn’t really want to do ballet. She just maybe sees it on TV,’” said Mores.
“But then when I turned five, she took me to see a class and I never stopped dancing.”
Originally from Brazil, Mores has danced in many ballets since moving to Canada more than three years ago ,including Hansel and Gretel, Giselle and A Midsummer. She has lived in Maple Ridge for the past year and a half.
The most challenging of her roles in this ballet is the little swan because, she said, it is the hardest choreography that she has ever danced.
Mores loves working with Coastal City Ballet’s newly appointed artistic director Katrina Bois. Her ability to make everyone look the same is a talent unique to her, said Mores.
Bois believes that Swan Lake is one of the only ballets that can be seen over and over again, especially Schneider’s rendition.
“The story itself is magical as it is, but with the addition of Schneider’s subtle, yet realistic plot twists, you’ll discover something new every year,” she said.
Schneider is an independent choreographer who has created over 60 ballets presented in numerous opera houses in Germany and throughout the world. After finishing her professional ballet career, primarily with Stuttgart Ballet, Schneider began teaching and choreographing. Her career led her to Magdeburg Ballet, with which she was artistic director for 15 years.
There are two dates only to catch Coastal City Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. The first is at 7:30 p.m. on May 18 at The Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St. in Vancouver. For tickets, contact 604-241-7292 or 604-665-3050 or go to Vtixonline.com.
The second date is at 7:30 p.m. on June 15 at the Bell Performing Arts Centre, 6250 144 Street in Surrey. For tickets, call 604-507-6355 or go to tickets.bellperformingartscentre.com.