Swan Lake 2006
Conejo Civic Ballet Company's Swan Lake 2006 production was performed May 26 and 27, 2006 at the Scherr Forum Theatre, Countrywide Performing Arts Center, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. As has been the case for CCBC performances over the last few years, both performances were sold out. Swan Lake is the first of the three masterpiece ballet scores that Peter Tchaikovsky composed. It was originally performed in Moscow but revived 12 years later in St. Petersburg shortly after Tchaikovsky's death. Marius Petipa and L.I. Ivanov choreographed the revised Swan Lake and it is this choreography that forms the basis of the CCBC production.
The task of adapting Petipa's choreography to the talents of the Conejo Civic Ballet Company's dancers consisting of students at Ballet Arts of varying levels of technique and stage experience, fell on the able shoulders of Helena Pokorny, our Ballet Mistress. Swan Lake is a difficult ballet to produce for a number of reasons. Usually Swan Lake is a large production with miles and miles of Swans. This requires a degree of coordination of movement among a large group of dancers and in our case, on a small stage; difficult enough with professional dancers, but with student dancers, a bit more of a challenge. That challenge was fully met. I have seen professional companies in live performances with a Corp de Ballet that was not as precise and controlled as what Ballet Arts students delivered throughout both performances. This is a remarkable accomplishment.
The CCBC production of Swan Lake includes a novel ending. The traditional Petipa ending has Prince Siegfried and Odette united in death as Siegfried willingly dies to break the spell cast over the swans. While this might seem a bit grim to modern day U.S. audiences, it is actually more uplifting then the original Moscow production that preceded it. Helena's choreography, I think, matches perfectly with the power of Tchaikovsky's finale. Dragged out of her despair, Odette's uncompromising love for Siegfried and self sacrifice destroy the evil magic of Rothbart and release the spell on Odette and the swans. Evil does not triumph in this unforgettable CCBC production.
Many people contributed to making this production a success, the most obvious, of course, are the CCBC dancers who performed so well and our Guest Artists from Santa Barbara's State Street Ballet who filled some of the lead roles with eagerness and accomplishment (who can forget Sylvia's black swan?). But in the background with equally important roles for bringing this production to fruition were Stage Manager Brett Weidlich, Ballet Arts instructors who coached the students tirelessly until the dancing was performance-grade, Artist Director Eva Pokorny, Executive Director Robin Twarowski, and Helena Pokorny who served as choreographer and Ballet Mistress for this production, providing the enormous amount of energy it takes to make a production this successful.
A special thanks to Cindy Borbas, who served as our Production Coordinator, for her numerous behind the scene contributions including several trips to Glendale to consult with Armineh the "seamstress for the Bolshoi" who made our new page costumes. Our volunteers were busy to the very last minute. Sue Hostetler embellished the Princess Brides costumes giving them a new look and took on her usual role of costume logistics manager. In the backstage frenzy of a production, keeping track of all the costumes so that a ballerina does not have to walk out on stage without a headpiece or, heaven help us, a costume can be quiet a challenge. Leigh Barry devoted much time and energies to completely redesigning and making the beautiful new ladies-of-the-court costumes that added color and lushness to our stage production. CCBC productions would not be so special if it were not for the considerable efforts of our volunteers. It is not just their contributions of time, money and effort but also their spirit that contributes to making CCBC productions alive and vibrant.
The program for Swan Lake includes the cast list and synopsis of the story. It is the same program handed out in paper form at the performance.
We have tried to capture some measure of the excitement of this production of Swan Lake in the slideshow and in the video clips. As is always the case, no amount of multi media material can take the place of actually experiencing a live performance. For those who were in the audience, I hope the slideshow and video clips can remind you of the totality of the wonderful performances. And for those that did not attend, we hope to give you a small glimpse of this magnificent ballet and the dedicated and talented members of CCBC who worked hard to bring the audience to its feet in applause at closing curtain.
The photo slideshow contains selected photos from both Friday and Saturday performance. All consist of 800x600 pixel images so maximize the size of the browser window that pops up for the best viewing experience. The link below will launch a new window with the slideshow. All of these photos (and others) were taken by Ann Mathias and it was very difficult picking out 35 or so from the hundreds of great photos that she took.