Project Tag: ballet

The Ghost of Swan Lake

July 19, 2022

A modernization on the traditional telling of Swan Lake. An original thought/retelling…

The Ghost of Swan Lake follows Princess Siegfried as she comes of age to be married. On her 18th birthday, many suitors grace her — countless princes, bearing gifts of all sorts — but she is not entertained by any of them, and turns them all away. In her dislike, she runs from the castle to settle by the lakeside, where she watches the swans gracefully swim on the water.

She is taken by one swan in particular, who before her very eyes turns into a handsome man. It is Odett, Prince of the Swans. Captivated by him, the princess approaches, but frightens Odett. While the princess assures him she means no harm, Odett explains that he and all of his swan companions have been placed under a spell… To be imprisoned in the body of a swan during the day, bound by the lake. The spell can only be broken by a vow of true love, and true faithfulness. Dawn breaks, and the princess watches the prince slip away into a swan again.

Unbeknownst to the princess, a suitor has arrived. The new prince has noticed Princess Siegfried’s love for what appears to be a swan, and with his crossbow in hand, after the princess departs, he decides to gift it to her. He strikes the swan through the heart.

Princess Siegfried later is given a gift by the new prince, and in a dramatic flourish the gift is revealed by tearing a tarp/cloth from over the taxidermied swan, its wings outstretched, as the new prince tries to woo her. Devastated, the princess runs in horror from the ballroom, and the gift is pushed away into the attic.

In her devastation, the princess visits the taxidermied swan in the attic. She cautiously plucks at the cloth/tarp and looks over the dead, lifeless swan stuffed and wired in the glass box. It is then that the Ghost reveals itself to her — bound to the swan’s body, still.

Utilizing a pepper’s ghost technique on stage, the princess can converse with the ghost, a ghostly reflection of the swan prince. She tears the tarp down in morbid curiosity, and the two dance, intersect, and are no longer able to touch.

Princess Siegfried is left by daybreak curled up in the attic, alone. The ghost, warped by death, is darker, firmer — like the Black Swan of traditional tellings. He is, by some accounts, a charming evil counterpart, corrupted by his ghostly afterlife.

Princess Siegfried visits the ghost nightly, when the apparition arrives, spending more and more time with him, and the ghost attempts to convince her that the only way they can be together is if she kills herself, permanently joining him as a ghost herself. Princess Siegfried is taken by him… Will he succeed in convincing her to join him?