When Swan Lake premiered at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1877 it was a resounding failure, perhaps the most noted in the artistic and creative biography of Pyotr Ilyich. This sad and complex theatrical fiasco has multiple and long explanations, from the ineffectiveness of the choreography of the Austrian (born in Prague) Wenzel Reisinger, a certain ordering of the score – according to a cumbersome and difficult to follow libretto by Begitchev and Geltser (who almost 20 years later, in 1895, Marius Petipa was in charge of recomposing and making it understandable) -, and the reception of an informed public, but who was in others. This late version, when Tchaikovsky had already been dead for more than a year, made in Saint Petersburg by Petipa with his assistant Lev Ivanov, became, due to its quality and timeliness, being the fourth since the premiere, in the canonical one, the so-called “classic par excellence ”and that more or less with diverse adaptations is danced all over the world.
Every day in the wide world there is a Lake on stage. To this must be added, the new versions entirely modern or novel, freer and detached from the original. In this last current group, the work premiered by Víctor Jiménez with his Zaragoza company LaMov. A line that starts from enjoying the benefits of the original structure, but adapted to modern styles. Other choreographers of our time (Mats Ek, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Andy de Groat, Matthew Bourne, Peter Darrell) have made their own. Little is recognized the American dancer La Méri (Russell Meriwether Hughes) who already in 1944, at the suggestion of Anatole Obújov, made her Swan lake applying Tchaikovsky’s score to the specificities of Hindu dance, she took him to Jacob’s Pillow and was accompanied on stage by Matteo (Matteo Marcellus Vittucci, a legendary performer also of flamenco ballet and bowling school) as Prince Siegfried, in a chamber format .
Jiménez leaves with all intention of the chamber format to assume the spatial dimensions that the music itself offers, a greatness, it can be said, expressed through a careful symphonism with daring solutions in the introduction of the most outstanding and well-known themes of the score of the Russian. The scenography and lighting are designed so that the viewer feels in a production of a high proportional and physical range, to which it contributes with the truffling of contemporary musical elements composed by Sarnago with which it compliments the evolutions of the figurative swans (many times without genders, in a deliberate clean slate that equates them as vulnerable and spectral beings).
Let’s say something about the mother choreography, the obligatory reference of yesterday on which the inspiration and manufacture of today’s choreographers rests, even in the freedom that contemporary media offers. The surviving choreography of Petipa and Ivanov is subsidiary, that is the truth, even venerating it; it is secondary to music. Jiménez knows it and subtly quotes it (the undulating movements of the arms, certain ground poses when the swans cover themselves with their own wings, the great expansive jump) but it is the powerful and monumental music that commands, and who is the one who has also resisted in time to fixes and disorders. In colloquial language, that music dances alone, by itself, and seems to ask from its powerful corpus and packaging, new inventions, new sequences of movements, and above all, to be shown through the new currents of scenic arts; and all that wise residue of invention has been assimilated, transformed and used by Jiménez for his trip to a figurative lake that can be a pool of futuristic architecture.
This is how the choreographer has made the poetic substances travel together with the musical motifs towards a truly lyrical, sometimes sidereal, demonstration, without being cold. Among other findings, it recovers the Russian dance that Tchaikovsky wrote to be inserted in the grand divertissement of the third act together with the tarantella, the Spanish dance, the chardas, and other manifestations of character, but which very soon went into oblivion and which Mijail Fokin recovered at the beginning of the 20th century for a lake where he participated staying as an individual solo work. Jiménez turns it into an efficient “paso a dos” between two men danced by Mattia Furlan and Imanol López (both giving a good dance exhibition, the first from their maturity and the second from their burgeoning new talent) that has no erotic significance. Rather, it is reminiscent of what Ivanov does with the soloist “great swans” in the second act of the reference work.
In these restrictive and discouraging times, LaMov has shown a commitment to not interrupting work, improving it, and continuing to raise the curtain whenever possible. In October 2020 we saw a first version, but this one now in June 2021 is clearly the definitive one, being ready for the public to enjoy in theaters and festivals. It is a piece full of keys, intentions and quality, as well as a demonstration of the choreutic culture of its managers. Reason for calling The lake to dry, a warning of its projection and aesthetic path.