When the curtains lift at the Asian premiere of Ballet West UK’s Swan Lake on Aug 24, be prepared to lose yourself in the fairytale world that has become the epitome of classical ballet.
Swan Lake, originally composed by Russian maestro Tchaikovsky in the late 19th century, is about a beautiful maiden turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, and the prince who falls in love with her.
This staging at Resorts World Genting is a full-length performance led by soloists Jonathan Barton, Natasha Watson and Uyu Hiromoto. It is choreographed by the award-winning Daniel Job, who also serves as artistic advisor and ballet master for this production. His body of work can be found with George Balanchine, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Deutsche Oper Berlin, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Danish Ballet.
“Ballet West UK is fortunate to have one of the world’s best choreographers in Daniel Job. He is never short of ideas to make a ballet more exciting, yet uncomplicated, so that everyone in the audience can understand it.
“There are no boring bits in our Swan Lake!” says the company’s founder and director, Gillian Barton, in an e-mail interview.
Still, it is a piece that demands a very high standard of technical expertise, she adds – and the principals in this take of Swan Lake come with some pretty impressive credentials.
Ballet master and Genee medallist coach Jonathan Barton (Gillian’s son) takes on the role of the lovelorn Prince Siegfried, while Watson, a fellow Genee medallist, plays Odette, the white swan. She was the only candidate from Britain chosen for the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 2015. (The Genee International Ballet Competition is an an annual international classical ballet competition organised by London’s Royal Academy of Dance.)
Hiromoto, recipient of the Solo Seal Award from the Royal Academy of Dance and a medallist at the South Africa International Ballet Competition, will offer her interpretation of Odile, the black swan, in this production.
“When you have fabulous dancers like the ones from Ballet West, it is great fun to make the work more challenging and fun,” says Barton, whose favourite scene is the Black Swan’s in Act 3.
“It is such an exciting act when you have a Black Swan like Uyu. Her dancing and acting is incredible!”
When Swan Lake first premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1877, it was not exactly well received. It was criticised as being “far too complicated, too noisy and too symphonic”, with its choreography described as “unmemorable”. Today, however, it is one of the most popular of all ballets.
“It is a classical ballet at its most beautiful and powerful. The music is thrilling and the production dramatic. The vast number of white swans moving so elegantly is breathtaking for the audience. It is the only ballet where the corps de ballet is as important as the principals,” says Barton.
Indeed, the enduring appeal of this beloved piece has stood the test of time, and Ballet West UK is all set to capture the mystery and magic of Swan Lake in its six-show run at Resorts World Genting. The production is presented by Malaysia’s The Dance Company.
“I hope the audience will take home what I feel when watching the rehearsals,” says Barton.
“An excitement from watching this energetic company that cannot be found with any other Swan Lake production, and a deeper love of the sheer beauty of classical ballet.”
In conjunction with the production, there will be a Ballet West UK International Masterclass conducted by dancer/choreographer Martin Fenton and professor of applied gymnastics for ballet Sonia Fajard. The class is for aspiring ballerinas looking to turn the dance form into a lifelong vocation. Priced at RM585 per masterclass, classes will be held on Aug 22, 23, 24 and 30 at the Arena of Stars in Genting.
Swan Lake is on at Genting International Showroom, Resorts World Genting, Genting Highlands, Pahang from Aug 24 to 26, and Aug 31 to Sept 2, at 8pm. Tickets: RM388, RM588, RM788, RM988 (excludes RM3.80 processing fee). Duration: 150 minutes, including intermission. For more information, call 03-2718 1118 or visit Resorts World Genting.