Swan Lake at Northrop

Houston Ballet Performance is “En Pointe”

Illustrator: Hannah Olund

The rich velvet curtains opened, and the audience’s clamoring quickly tapered down until there was nothing but the symphonic orchestra humming quietly in the pit. The stage was set: a foggy night, further obscured by a black screen and dense wooded scenery. Odette, a beautiful young maiden entered, and we watched her meet her fate, already suggested by the ominous environment. The evil knight, Rothbart, placed a curse on her: swan by day and maiden by night. As he and his dark forces left the stage, so too did the gloomy scenery. At last, the crisp choreography carried out by the Prince and his male associates greeted the audience. The dancers showed off their elegant grace, and the ethereal romance between the Prince and Odette took flight.

The jewel colors and warm lighting of the castle in the second act deeply juxtaposed the cool blue and brown tones of the forest. This change of scenery was incredibly engaging, along with the vigor of the dances that ensued. Every note from the orchestra aligned with the dancers’ fluid movements. Although much of this act followed solo dancers who tried to court the Prince, a terrible incident played out as Odile—Odette’s dark twin—seduced him. He fell for her, thinking she was the woman he met in the woods.

In the third and final act, the imagery of Swan Lake fully emerged as the swan maidens had their time to shine. The ballerinas formed long, beautiful lines that allowed the audience to visualize the setting, in which the Prince and Odette would meet their untimely end. Ultimately, their sacrifice broke the curse of the swans and cast a spell over the audience, leaving us breathless and wanting more of the dancers’ enchanting performance.