October 10, 2013

Eternal ballet brought back to life through Central West Ballet

Central West Ballet opens its season with “Swan Lake.”

Evil twins, eternal love and endless grace will open the Central West Ballet season as the company reprises the Tchaikovsky classic “Swan Lake.”

The full-length ballet, considered one of the greatest and most popular 19th century ballets, returns to the Gallo Center for the Arts stage Oct. 18 and 19. The company last performed the story of love, sorcery and betrayal in 2011, at the height of its renewed popularity thanks to the Oscar-winning film “Black Swan,” which uses a production of the piece as its backdrop.

Two years later, Central West Artistic Director Rene Daveluy said he wanted to bring it back for the season opener because of its power and the scope of the production. While the ballet will be held in the smaller Foster Theater this time (in 2011 it was in the Rogers Theater), Daveluy said the staging will be just as full and features nearly 40 dancers. Extra dancers were brought in from outside the company.

“The stage is going to be filled with wonderful dancing ladies,” Daveluy said. “‘Swan Lake’ really, really trains the girls to be really, really well-skilled on pointe shoes. That makes every other style of dance that much better.”

The company will have about 30 dancers, with seven to eight outside dancers also taking part.

Returning to the dual lead roles will principal dancer Sarah Weaver as the Swan Queen, Odette, and her evil doppelganger the Black Swan, Odile. Prince Siegfried, who discovers and falls in love with Odette, will be played by former Central West Ballet dancer David Riskin, who was a longtime company member before moving to Utah in 2009. Von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who turns Odette into a swan, will be performed by company soloist Aaron Gulevich.

For the Saturday matinee the lead roles will be played by Paige Brown, Phillip Riskin (David Riskin’s brother) and Grant Landon, respectively.

The fanciful story is accompanied by what Daveluy called “the perennial score,” one of the most well-known ballet scores ever written.

“It is a fantastic – a stellar, sublime score, the music is so famous. It is extremely symphonic. It stands by itself as one of the great, great ballet scores,” he said.

“Swan Lake” kicks off a season featuring both classic and eclectic performances for Central West Ballet. The next show will be seasonal favorite “The Nutcracker,” which bows Dec. 13 to 22, and then ends with the cross-genre show “Let’s Dance! An Evening of Style” on Feb. 7 and 8.

The latter will include the company’s second Balanchine ballet as well as modern dance and even rock ’n’ roll.

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