Playmobil swan, July 2010
The girls have even used their Playmobil toys to re-enact Swan Lake!

We’ve had a couple of weeks of listening to Tchaikovsky (thanks to our local library system that allows us to also borrow CDs) and last weekend the girls watched the Australian Ballet’s production of Swan Lake as their scheduled Sunday-afternoon screen time.

We’ve been talking about ballet moves and the emotions that Tchaikovsky’s music evokes, and I even borrowed several different books from the library on Swan Lake. (The best by far was Nancy Ellison’s version which is rich in photographs and laid out in a dramatic fashion.)

Swan Lake, July 2010
All of this was in preparation for yesterday's outing to the Gold Coast Arts Centre for a ballet production of Swan Lake.

The Queensland Ballet’s Swan Lake is touring regional centres around the state (although the Gold Coast is hardly Woop Woop), and so we took advantage of the reduced cost and booked two children’s tickets and one adult ticket to the show.

This was much more professional than the girls’ outing last year to the ballet, and all the preparation we had done beforehand gave them an understanding of the story. (For her part, Calista learned “not ball-ee, Mummy — ball-ay!”) David and the girls recognised some of the dancers from their performance last August.

To our chagrin, the production was not the classical Swan Lake story, but it featured a narrative written by the French choreographer François Klaus& who drew on the memoirs of the Russian ballerina Mathilde Kschessinka to weave a story that featured Russian history (with the Romanov Tsar Nicholas, his betrothed Alexandra — Princess of Hesse — and Rasputin) as well as presenting one act with the traditional Swan Lake choreography. However, the Queensland Ballet made a synopsis of the story available in their teachers’ resource kit, and I could read the narrative to the girls and explain it so they would be able to understand the story the ballet company was telling.

Before Swan Lake Ballet, July 2010
David took his three oldest daughters to the ballet. Calista sat on his lap during the performance.

All this research has taught me about the traditional Swan Lake, which I never fully knew beforehand. This synopsis is from the program:

The most famous ballet of all time, Swan Lake was first performed at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1877. In the original version of the ballet, the central character, Princes Odette, has been turned into a swan by the magician, Rothbart. But at midnight each night, she and her companions become human for the few hours until dawn. One night, Prince Siegfried is at the lake and meets the Princess. They fall in love and he swears to rescue her from Rothbart’s curse. However, at a ball at the Palace, Rothbart appears with his daughter Odile in the form of Black Swan. Because she looks so like Odette, the Prince is bewitched and agrees to become betrothed to her. At this moment, Odette appears to him in a vision and, realising his mistake, Siegfried rushes to the lake. However, Rothbart conjures up a storm and the lovers drown.

After the production (which took three hours in total!), we enjoyed a dinner out at the Ferry Road Diner, which styles itself as a fifties-style diner and attracts classic-car-club meet-ups and retro fans. We were in such a relaxed frame of mind that the girls got to try some “black yucky water” (Coca-cola) for the first time ever!

It was a big day out — lots of fun — and I’m sure it will lead to lots of fun dancing at home!