Most dancers are familiar with the ballet classic Swan Lake. Set to a score by Tchaikovsky, it’s the story of a prince’s quest to free an enchanted swan princess.
But more than 100 years after the original was created, inventive choreographer Matthew Bourne came along and changed the Swan game. He kept a few things from the traditional ballet, such as the music and parts of the story. But he also made some major changes: In Bourne’s version of Swan Lake, the corps de ballet of swans isn’t made up of lithe ballerinas—instead it’s a group of strong, yet equally elegant, men.
Bourne’s production debuted on Broadway in 1998 and won three Tony Awards. On October 13, this modern-day classic returns to NYC. Richard Winsor, who plays the Swan, chatted with DS about the boundary-breaking show.
Dance Spirit: How is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake unique?
Richard Winsor: The swans are still poised, graceful and beautiful, but because they’re danced by men, they’re also dynamic, masculine and
aggressive. They represent love, power and freedom. The ballet is becoming a classic in its own right.
DS: How have you embraced the role of the Swan?
RW: My character is a powerhouse—a beautiful beast. It’s been my goal to make the movement and animalistic nature of the character my own. My role is passionate and intriguing. I can’t wait to get into my feathers in NYC!
DS: Why should Dance Spirit readers see this show?
RW: There’s something in it for everybody, and it’s thoroughly entertaining. Overall the ballet feels carefree, but there’s a deep, meaningful message. Everyone can relate to a story about a misfit who can’t fit into the life around him. It really pulls you in and moves you. You’ll be surprised by how exciting it all is, and you’ll be emotionally drained by the end of it. It’s a fantastic night out!