A Swan Lake

A "Swan Lake" with neither tutus nor ballet shoes!

By In Dance 2 hour 14 min

After his acclaimed literary adaptations of «Carmen» and «Peer Gynt», now turns to a classic ballet that will reveal yet another facet of his art: «Swan Lake». In 2023, the Swedish choreographer has reinterpreted this great work for and, in so doing, addressed some profound questions: How are personal relationships affected by violence and manipulation? And what roles do personal freedom, respect and acceptance play in a loving relationship?

In this version, Johan Inger prefers to focus on the highly contemporary issues of mutual respect and personal freedom in human relationships. The set design by Estudiodedos redefines the space, allowing the choreography to dovetail perfectly with the plot.
Swedish choreographer Johan Inger's works are renowned for their wry, poetic and humorous take on human relationships, with his adaptations of «Carmen» and «Peer Gynt» garnering particular acclaim. Now he reveals a new facet of his art in this latest production of «A Swan Lake». Taking his inspiration from «The Stolen Veil» – one of a collection of folk tales by Johann August Musäus – he builds a decidedly modern story around the famous swan.

On the stage of the Semperoper in Dresden, set designers Letici Gañán and Curt Allen Wilmer explore the full potential afforded by the intersection of architecture and scenography. With movable walls, mirrors, lights, colours and projections, the pair behind Estudiodedos create a vast array of sensory experiences in which dance and space intertwine, ultimately merging into a single narrative thread.

A deity bestows the gift of transforming into swans upon selected souls.

Act I
Queen Zoe, who with the help of a magic veil can turn into a swan, is unhappy in her marriage with King Zeno. One day Benno, a guest, arrives at their castle. He and the Queen take a liking to each other. However, the King catches them and has Benno arrested. Theo, Zoe‘s confidant, helps him escape and tells him that he can find his beloved at a faraway lake. Only once a year can the Queen fly there in order to take a rejuvenating bath. In the hope of seeing her again, Benno embarks on a journey through different countries. At the said Swan Lake they express their love to each other and promise to meet again. When Zoe returns home and arrives at a ball too late, Zeno punishes her by destroying her veil. At the lake, Benno waits in vain for his beloved.

Act II
Twenty years later, the now widowed Queen Zoe has to send her son Kallisto off to war. On the shores of the Swan Lake, of all places, he is wounded and cared for by Benno. The hermit, who has taken in the Prince like a son, initiates him into the secret of the lake and they witness the ritual of the swan people, who take their annual bath. When Benno once again does not find Zoe among the group, he dies in despair. At the same moment, Kallisto discovers the swan maiden Odette and falls in love with her. To prevent her from flying away, he steals her veil and hides it. Seeking protection, she takes the Prince for her saviour and begins a life together with him at the lake. Having searched for Kallisto, Theo eventually finds him and asks him to come back home. However, he refuses and remains with Odette and their child in the seclusion he has chosen. Increasingly suffering from Kallisto‘s violence, the life of his family changes for the worse. Just at this time, his wife rediscovers her veil and realizes that she had been deceived. This moment is also witnessed by Zoe, who has come to personally convince her son to return to court. She recognizes herself in Odette and encourages her to reclaim her freedom …