Revising Swan Lake
Michael Pink sorts through the swirling tale
In Michael Pink's necessary rethinking for Milwaukee Ballet, that passage, set to one of Tchaikovsky's most heavenly melodies, represents the long-sought, long-feared reunion of Prince Siegfried and Odette, childhood sweethearts separated by the sorcerer in his plot to seize the kingdom. Odette can't bear to be in Siegfried's presence now that she's become a swan monster. Pink's freeform choreography—performed on opening night by Luz San Miguel and David Hovhannisyan and in the preview by Valerie Harmon and Ryan Martin—is far more beautiful and emotionally wrenching than the more famous versions I've seen with Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova. I hope one day he'll bring such depth to the entire ballet.
I don't think all his strategies work yet. The focus on the sorcerer's coup mostly underscored the tale's illogic for me. And why would someone who can materialize a classical ballerina from pond water resort to stabbing enemies with a knife? Siegfried is the clear protagonist, but by the climax I'd lost track of him in the swirl of sorcerer and swans.
The new swan costumes are smart; in bedraggled skirts, bare legs and loose hair, the women look like they've emerged from water. Mirroring one another under David Grill's miraculous lighting, they conjured moonlit waves. San Miguel, Hovhannisyan and Martin were fine dancing fiendishly difficult choreography. Valerie Harmon, Annia Hidalgo and Alexandre Ferreira confirmed their standing as new company stars. The Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra gave a loving performance under maestro Pasquale Laurino.