The Western Australian retake on Swan Lake

West Australian Ballet marks its 70th year and the company also celebrates artistic director Aurelien Scanella’s tenth year with the company and it seems everything aligned for its final season of 2022.

It takes a brave artistic director to rewrite the classic Swan Lake but Scannella must be congratulated for this uniquely Western Australian adaption of the ballet.

The opening night performance displayed a vision from him that not only expressed his deep affection and talent for his craft but also for Western Australia.

Scannella said that the company had never before attempted to stage a work of this scale but he believed after 10 years he and the company were ready to climb ballet’s Everest.

“When I first started planning our new Swan Lake, I sought a choreographer who could bring Swan Lake’s moving narrative to life within our new context.

“Krysztof Pastor is no stranger to Swan Lake and after the dizzying success of Dracula, I knew he would be perfect to creation our own version,” said Scannella.

Barry McGuire as Boodja Wiirn, Spirit of the Land in Swan Lake. Photo by Bradbury Photography

Working with Noongar elder Barry Maguire who shared his story of his family’s totem the black swan, Scanella saw an important opportunity for a landmark collaboration.

The performance starts on the banks of the Swan River with the local Noongar Beeliar (people of the Swan River) performing the black swan dance.

Maguire’s performance as the spirit of the land is fitting and his singing provides a spiritual atmosphere across stage.

The way this Western Australian Noongar story interweaves so seamlessly with this classic tale is magic and then there is the dancing. 

Lead dancer Oscar Valdes was passionate and technically brilliant, Chihiro Nomura as Odile was breathtaking as was Kiki Saito as Odette.

The huge cast of dancers all entertained and showed why this company should be considered a leader in the ballet world.

The swans were truly magnificent, the poise, skill and passion they demonstrated throughout the performance was a level above anything that the company has performed before.

My guest had never seen Swan Lake and was absolutely mesmorised by the performance; particularly the swans, expressing that not only did they dance so technically perfect but the acting was enpointe!

Accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score which was superbly performed by the Western Australian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The sets, the costumes, the sound and lighting reflected the company’s dedication to delivering world class performances.

It is not often you leave a performance and think well that was perfect – but it was!  A new take on a classic story more than 140 years old felt like it was always meant to be told.

Dancing of such precision took your breath away with a deep feeling of love and respect which imbibed the room as Western Australian Ballet embrace our Noongar culture. It was reflected from every person who graced the stage, a five star performance…Bravo!

Don’t miss Swan Lake at His Majesty’s Theatre – on stage until December 11.