Miami City Ballet Presents North American Premiere of Ratmansky’s “Swan Lake”

February 4, 2022

This month, Miami City Ballet presents the highly anticipated North American premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Swan Lake. Originally co-produced by Zurich Ballet and La Scala Ballet in 2016, Ratmansky’s version of the beloved classic harkens back to Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s 1895 original. 

This production marks the first time that MCB has performed a full-length Swan Lake in its 36-year history. While the company had planned to perform the ballet in February 2021, the pandemic forced MCB to reschedule it for this season. “I have wanted to bring this production to our audiences for more than six years, and to finally see it come to life feels like an incredible achievement,” artistic director Lourdes Lopez said in a statement.

In a large ballet studio, a crops of females dancers stand in a tableau in tendu derriere effacé and their arms in demi-second position towards the back of the studio. In front of them, to the right, a male dancer kneels on his right knee and holds a ballerina in sus-sous position over his left knee. The ballerina wears a practice tutu and crosses her wrists slightly in high fifth. To the left of them, another male dancer stands in tendu derriere and reaches his left arm towards the couple. All of the dancers wear assorted dancewear and face masks.
MCB dancers rehearse Alexei Ratmansky’s Swan Lake. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

While the Tchaikovsky score and basic plot will be familiar to audiences, Ratmansky’s extensive research, based on Stepanov notation and archival sources, has led to a number of changes, including the lack of swan arms and oft-seen Black Swan tutu. Even the sets and costumes, designed by Jérôme Kaplan, are based on the original. (Tutus are bell-shaped, for instance, and Odette wears a crown instead of a feathered headpiece.) But for Lopez, the biggest difference between Ratmansky’s version and those of other productions is not aesthetic. “The humanity, the tenderness and betrayal of the narrative is more powerful in this one than in any other version of Swan Lake I’ve seen,” she told Miami’s Artburst. “This is not a love story between a bird and a prince, this is a love story between a woman and the prince who betrays her.”

The North American premiere of Ratmansky’s Swan Lake is scheduled to run February 11–13 at Miami’s Arsht Center, February 19–20 in West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center and February 26–27 at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

This is an updated version of an article that appeared in Pointe’s Summer 2020 print edition.