Timeless ‘Swan Lake’ captivates and enthralls

April 24, 2019

“Swan Lake” – Courtesy of Moonbug Photography. Used with permission.

There’s a reason why nearly 150 years later, “Swan Lake” remains a favorite of ballet companies, not to mention audiences, all over the world. And what better piece for Indianapolis Ballet, now in its second year, to showcase its virtuoso company, which continues to impress with high caliber, polished performances. I had the great pleasure of seeing the sold-out, closing performance of the classic ballet, with music by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, Saturday at Tobias “The Toby” Theatre at Newfields.

A timeless story of love, “Swan Lake” combines magic, tragedy and romance into three acts (in this IB version). It features Prince Siegfried and an exquisite swan princess named Odette. Under the spell of an evil sorcerer, Baron von Rothbart, she spends her days as a swan swimming on a lake of tears and her nights in her beautiful  human form.

Dancing to the ingenious choreography of Marius Petipa and IB Artistic Director and founder Victoria Lyras, members of the company turned in impeccable performances, which often moved me.  With all showing near flawless synchronization, the dancers demonstrated masterful technique and pure artistry.

Particularly impressive were the Swans, danced by 16 of the most disciplined women I have seen in any ballet on any stage. Their controlled performance as a corps was absolutely breathtaking in its symmetry. Standing out were the performances of the Leading Swans Jessica Miller and Mary Ann Shaefer, as well as the four who wowed the audience in the iconic dance of the four Little Swans.

“Swan Lake” – Courtesy of Moonbug Photography. Used with permission.

When it came to effective partnering, dramatic power, musicality and  artistry, Chris Lingner as the Prince and Yoshiko Kamikusa as Odette, turned in exceptional performances, with their Black Swan pas de deux in Act 2 eliciting spontaneous, wild cheers and applause from the enthusiastic audience.

Also making a strong impression was IB Associate Artistic Director Paul Vitali as the Queen’s Consort/Evil Sorcerer, who interpreted his role as the villain to great effect.

I can’t say enough positive things about the beauty and opulence of the production’s stunning costumes designed by Loukia Finale and Lyras. The duo’s creations were pitch-perfect in their detail and elegance. Completing the production’s first-rate production values were its sets designed by Mark E. Smith and Vitali and the lighting design by production director James Leitner.

Adding to the exciting, dynamic atmosphere present at The Toby during the closing performance of the production’s sold-out, three-day run were the numerous children, presumably IB and other ballet students, in attendance. It gave me hope that s they will grow up to love, support and perhaps even perform the art form. With its power to inspire and combination of physical feats, strength, beauty and effortless grace, it deserves to live on for generations to come and Indianapolis Ballet and its school is, indeed, doing its part to ensure it does.

For tickets and information about the 2019-20 Indianapolis Ballet Residencies call (317) 955-7525 or visit indyballet.org.

photo: Julie Curry

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Indy Style, and is a creative arts reporter for Reel Life TV, an entertainment show also broadcast on WISH-TV.

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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