Months of rehearsals will culminate this weekend as over sixty students combine to perform the classic ballet “Swan Lake” in BYU’s DeJong Concert Hall.
Performers include members of BYU’s Theatre Ballet Company, International Folk Dance Ensemble and Philharmonic Orchestra. According to Ryan Hatch, a BYU senior majoring in dance, this inter-departmental collaboration is the most unique element of this year’s ballet.
“It is such a cool opportunity to perform alongside live music,” Hatch said. “It adds another element of excitement.” Hatch will perform the principal role of Prince Siegfried.
The Philharmonic Orchestra will provide the music for the entire show under the direction of music professor Kory Katseanes, with guest performer Michelle Kesler, a BYU music professor, on the cello. BYU folk dance professor Amy Jex helped coach both the ballet dancers and folk dancers in the traditional character dancing that appears in the show’s third act.
The production will run from Jan. 23-25, but it has been many months in the making. According to Alex Marshall, a sophomore English major who will be performing the principal role of Swan Princess Odette, rehearsals began before classes even started last September.
“It takes a lot of time to put together a full length ballet with so many moving parts,” Marshall said. She explained that because of the choreography’s complexity, there would often be rehearsals going on in multiple studios at the same time.
“All the dancers have to put in time outside the studio reviewing videos and corrections and doing cross training to help us prepare for the intense dancing,” Marshall said. “It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m really sad to see it coming to an end so soon.”
Swan Lake is a romantic ballet divided into four acts. Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and based off a German fairy tale, it follows the story of Prince Siegfried as he falls in love with Odette, a princess cursed to turn into a swan at night. The only way the curse can be broken is with a man’s promise to love her forever.
“Swan Lake is the epitome of ballet because it’s very dramatic, but it’s also very technically challenging and takes a lot of stamina both physically and emotionally,” Marshall said.
Director and dance professor Shayla Bott said the ballet was chosen specifically for the students’ growth.
“Everything we choose to program has to serve the students’ development first and foremost,” Bott said. “Some of the best tools for students to learn and grow into professionals are given to them in the classical repertoire.”
Hatch, Marshall and other students said they have experienced significant growth as dancers and people because of their involvement with the production.
“Swan Lake is a ballet that so many brilliant ballet dancers have performed,” Hatch said. “It’s an honor to be able to follow in the footsteps of so many great dancers.”
Tickets to the show can be purchased through the BYU Arts website or at the Harris Fine Arts Center box office.