A Swan Lake Like No Other

The Great Chinese State Theater, typically remarkable-but-bizarre and over-the-top.

Remarkable, yes. But I guess I’m old-fashioned and a traditionalist. I prefer Swan Lake without the extreme-acrobatics.

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Linda

    I can’t watch ballet any more, knowing what I know about what the requirements of that form of dance do to women’s bodies. I don’t watch boxing or football either.

    This level of perfection must lead to ruin earlier than usual.

  • NBW

    Looks like Cirque-du-Swan Lake. The acrobatics are great, but they don’t belong in Swan Lake.

  • Sarah Pierzchala

    Clearly, The Chinese are much farther ahead in robotics technology than anyone suspected…

  • Nzie

    It’s impressive… but it’s very strange to me that the principals are doing the least dancing. At least if it looked birdlike, it’d be one thing, but there wasn’t even anything particularly bird-ish about it. I think for art, there is still an element of form following function. Dance is a form of storytelling connected with music- I didn’t feel any connection to the music at all (particularly because it moved and the principals largely didn’t) and very little to the story. Absent the music/ballet context, it’s impressive, but it doesn’t fit within it just because she’s in toe shoes and a swan costume. (And on that note, as a uni. costume designer, I LOVED the corps’ costumes — they looked more swanlike than any I’ve ever seen with those back-heavy tutus. It was as brilliant as the black snowflakes I saw at the Mariinsky’s Nutcracker – they essentially glued cotton balls onto black tutus and made the most lovely snowflake effect I’ve seen – and then for the queen snowflake they had sewn on black “negative space.”)

  • ferdigrofe

    To me the interesting things is that it is being performed at all in China. I think perhaps the greatest creation of Western Civilization is great music. Great music has lost a lot of its audience in America. Interest in great music is declining. My local NPR station only plays jazz. I have never heard a note of Mozart or Bach on it. Even the once beloved CBC four years ago changed its programing and now plays a lot of whinny voices and twangy guitars. I heard a Japanese choir singing flawlessly and superbly a Bach cantata. It is a measure of the East Asian cultures that they have so embraced and excelled at so much of what is the best from the West, as interest lags in the same in the West. Perhaps it parallels the shift of the center of Christianity from Europe to the Americans, African and East Asia.
    As to the performance, I suspect that Diaghalev, Balanchine, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, and Sir Frederick Ashton to name a few are turning over in their graves. Perhaps it is a bit like Samuel Johnson’s comment on women preachers. He compared them to a dog walking on its hind legs. It not the performance, but the mere fact that it is done that is amazing.

  • Swan Rake

    Yeah, here is all this glorious western music but this freakish Chinese acrobat display. Typical Chi-Comm propaganda: we can’t create anything original but, we sure can take it, ruin it and produce it bigger and better than you can! And with slave labor to boot!

    I want to see outtakes. Then I’ll be amus– I mean, impressed.

  • tomg51

    It’s ballet?
    All I care about is the score – it can take you anywhere!

  • daisy

    When did knocking all things Chinese become fashionable?

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife

    I agree with Nzie- updating a classic is fine- but the principals were concerned with their ‘tricks’ instead of the story

  • Gail F

    I like it! I can just imagine a bunch of Chinese people watching a ballet and saying, “Wow, that was great — but you know what would be even greater? ACROBATS.” And so they combine it the way they like it! I love it when she stands on head ON POINTE!!!