★★★★★ - Irresistible
In Nevada Ballet Theatre's most recent production at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, where it is the Resident Ballet Company, choreographer Ben Stevenson’s Swan Lake received a most illustrious performance, a sumptuous and wondrous event that was a must see for ballet aficionados and newcomers alike. This most iconic love story in all of ballet is fraught with fear and bliss, intrigue, and surrender, and is set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, gloriously enveloping the romantic fable of ill-fated love. A dramatic and emotional success, beautiful and atmospheric throughout, this moving experience warranted a rousing standing ovation at the curtain call for the last of four public performances and one student matinee.
The original production premiered in 1877 at The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, to very critical reviews. Peter Tchaikovsky, a well-respected composer of the time, was invited to create the musical score. This original version was choreographed by Julius Reisinger. Later in 1895, the great ballet choreographers and teachers, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, choreographed a revival for the Imperial Ballet at The Mariinsky Theatre. All modern-day ballet companies base their productions off of the revival. This legendary collaboration between Petipa and Tchaikovsky also produced Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
NBT’s version was choreographed by Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., who has compressed the original four acts into two uninterrupted halves, which he first staged in this form in 1984 (Acts 1 and 2 merge, as do acts 3 and 4). He's given the Queen Mother more importance as a (non-dance) role; made some cuts and reshufflings in the score, and provided the Act III divertissements with a nice touch by having the four Princesses -- candidates for Siegfried's hand in marriage -- come from four different nations, corresponding to the musical styles that Tchaikovsky invokes. Even at 84 years of age, and having directed for over 50 years, Mr. Stevenson traveled to Las Vegas to work with NBT on this production -- and made some changes during the final week of rehearsals.
As NBT Artistic Director Roy Kaiser pointed out during the pre-performance Insights session: “The scope of Stevenson’s version works best for NBT’s regional troupe of twenty-five dancers”.