Magical moments are rare in today’s society. There is so much that happens in a single day of our crazy lives that we lose touch with time, with people, with art. In an evening of chaotic traffic, busy restaurants and loud music on the streets of Denver, Colorado that magic took hold and quickly cast its spell with the first musical note played for Swan Lake, a ballet performed by the Colorado Ballet Company. The dancers of this company are accomplished professionals who create a new world of art and beauty for their audiences at every performance. The movement of their bodies captures such grace, such elegance and admiration. The Colorado Ballet Company presented a stunning compilation of all of these aspects in a tragically beautiful performance of Swan Lake written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Almost immediately, the audience is swept away in the opening act of the 21st birthday of Prince Siegfried in the courtyard of the palace where he resides with his Queen mother. Confronted with the daunting fact that the Prince has to choose a bride at the palace ball the very next evening, he is saved from his melancholy when his good friend Benno suggests a hunting party. As they dance their way into the forest to hunt swans, the Prince is aghast at the transformation of his targeted swan, into a beautiful maiden. The Prince learns that she is Queen Odette, and she and her maidens have been cast under a terrible spell by Baron Von Rothbart where only at night they can transform into their human forms, but are otherwise left as elegant swans under his complete control. The two capture the audience as they fall in love using graceful movements and exquisite technique through their bodies. At the first light, the Prince declares his love as the Queen and her flock is sent back to the lake in swan form.
The next day at the palace ball, the Queen demands her son Siegfried to choose a bride. Numerous dancers grace the halls and the Prince dances with the four stunning Princesses, but finds that his heart belongs to another. As he is about to leave, the palace guards introduce the arrival of two uninvited guests; Baron Von Rothbart, and his daughter Odile who is disguised as the Queen Odette. As the two fascinate the audience with a magnificently delicate dance, Von Rothbart places a spell on the Prince leading him to confess his undying love and vow to Odile. As the spell is lifted, Queen Odette appears in the window distraught and heartbroken, as the Prince’s vow to her was the only element that could break the spell she and her maidens were under. A tremendous whirlwind of chaos ensues the stage as Von Rothbart and Odile disappear in a flash of blaring light and smoke. Prince Siegfried rushes into the night to find Queen Odette, his one true love.
Frantic with heart break, Queen Odette returns to her swan maidens promising to drown herself in the lake while in human form. As the swan maidens beg for their Queen to live, the dancing becomes a sway of emotion, pain, and sorrow. The audience is swept away into the water like movements of the ballerinas as they plead for life. The Queen is surrounded by her flock in a migration of comfort and support as the Prince finds them and beseeches forgiveness from her. She forgives him, but explains that his vow is broken and she is doomed to live as a swan forever or die. The two begin a breathtaking dance that allures the audience’s attention and practically pulls them onto the stage to experience the turmoil of their inevitable fate. Before the audience even realizes the destiny of these two lovers, they throw themselves off a cliff to their deaths in complete despair. The swan maidens find themselves freed from the spell as dawn approaches and exult in knowing that their Queen is united with her one true love for eternity.
It is only when the music stops that I realized that I was holding my breath through the final act. To experience a show that leaves you winded and enervated is truly a magical experience that is irreplaceable. Having a chance to remove myself from real life for an evening, and live in the story that these ballerinas were telling with their beautiful body movements and strength was peaceful. As the audience filed out of the opera house I found myself longing for more, wishing the three hour show had not ended so quickly. Walking out into the brisk fall Colorado evening, I caught the sounds of horns and drums and rushed to fill the void that the ballet had so quickly left me with artistically.