‘Swan Lake’: A modern retelling of a classic love story

A preview of The Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake by Calperformances.

An elegant set combined with minimalistic props, dramatic lighting, and superb dance techniques make the Australian Ballet’s version of “Swan Lake” a stunning performance. The company performed last Sunday at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley as a part of its 2014 United States tour.

Choreographer Graeme Murphy retells Tchaikovsky’s classic story based on the love triangle between Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Camilla. In this contemporary version, Odette (Diana) marries Prince Siegfried (Charles). After the wedding, she realizes her husband is in love with a baroness. Odette becomes so distressed that she is taken to a mental institution after she starts imagining swan-like maidens.

Throughout the three-hour ballet, dancers moved effortlessly, leaping and gliding through the air. Their pointe shoes carefully touched the floor as they gracefully twirled across the stage. Dancers donned long skirts with layers of tulle instead of the typical ballerina tutus.

Principal dancer Madeleine Eastoe, who portrays Odette, danced the four acts with passion and precision. When Principal dancer Kevin Jackson, who plays Prince Siegfried, lifts her, it was as if she was a feather floating in the air. Everything seemed so natural. Modern and classical ballet movements were combined to present a fresh and creative choreography.

“It was amazing — their technique and expression,” says Maya Bloemhaird, a dance student at Berkeley’s Ballet Theater. Bloemhaird, who has seen other productions of “Swan Lake,” says she has never seen a production like this. She praised the Australian ballet’s dancers for their rhythmic movements.“They are really focused on shaping the feet and how they are using their arms.”

Zrinka Jancic, a UC Berkeley student, was touched by Principal dancer Eastoe’s emotionally expressive performance.

“I found myself crying,” says Jancic. “I don’t find myself doing that easily.”