Ballet Idaho premieres Swan Lake tonight. Here’s what you need to know about this classic ballet. There’s Prince Siegfried. He falls in love with a beautiful woman named Odette, who’s actually trapped in the body of a swan.
Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti dances the part of Odette. The lead dancer calls her character “fragile,” a beautiful creature that has been imprisoned as a swan by the evil wizard Von Rothbart. “She’s waiting for true love to come to save her,” explains Affrunti. “It’s the only thing that can.”
The wizard is the father of the Black Swan, danced by Lauren Menger. “I’m playing Odile,” she says. “She has moments where she mimics Odette. She’s trying to trick the prince to fall in love with her so that he can’t swear his love to Odette.”
Ballet Idaho’s artistic director Peter Anastos calls this an impossible love story that ends in tragedy. Usually companies do part of Swan Lake but for the first time, Ballet Idaho will do all four acts. “It’s a big ballet,” explains Anastos. “If you were doing all of Tchaikovsky's music, it’d be a four hour show so it’s traditional to make cuts.” Ballet Idaho's version will run just under two hours.
The Boise Philharmonic will perform Peter Tchaikovsky's music for Swan Lake Friday and Saturday. The orchestra usually only performs live for Ballet Idaho’s Nutcracker. “Music director Robert Franz has never conducted Swan Lake before. It’s the only Tchaikovsky ballet he hasn’t done. So we are all really excited,” says Anastos.
Lead dancers Affrunti and Menger say they are honored to perform Odette and Odile in such a classic ballet. They say for the women in the company this is an especially challenging ballet.
Menger says “A lot of people don’t know that a lot of the women are in all four acts aside from Odette and Odile. It’s a great ballet because it brings the company together and it ups the level of the company completely.”
Affrunti agrees. She says during rehearsals, it’s common for dancers to leave the room and get a drink of water and then come back. But with Swan Lake she says the company has remained in the rehearsal room to watch. “It’s really been an all for one and one for all type of atmosphere because I think that the ballet is so challenging.”
Anastos says the dancers have worked incredibly hard on this ballet. “I’m really proud of them,” he says. “I sit in the front of the room and I go, ‘oh my god my company can dance Swan Lake.’”
Ballet Idaho performs Swan Lake tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Morrison Center in Boise.
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