SIDNEY — Even people who don’t think they like dance performances will enjoy “Swan Lake,” according to the Sidney Dance Company Artistic Director Molly McFarland.
The company of student dancers will present the iconic ballet, Friday at 7 p.m., Jan. 19 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. in the Sidney High School auditorium, 1215 Campbell Road.
Tickets cost $12 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens if purchased in advance at Sharon’s School of Dance, 104 1/2 E. Poplar St.; Sidney Alive, 109 S. Ohio Ave.; or brownpapertickets.com. At the door, tickets will cost $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors.
“The appeal for people who don’t love dance is the story, itself,” McFarland told the Sidney Daily News, Thursday, Jan. 10. “It’s epic. It’s dramatic.”
The story concerns Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, Rothbart, who appears as an owl, and Prince Siegfried, who loves her. Odette is condemned to be a swan by day, swimming with other swans under the same spell, on a lake of tears. She resumes her human form by night, which is when Siegfried meets her and falls in love.
Siegfried vows to kill Rothbart, but if Rothbart dies before the spell is broken, it will never end. When Siegfried stages a ball to find a bride, Rothbart arrives with Odile, the black swan, who pretends to be Odette. Siegfried vows to marry her, thinking she is Odette. When Odette finds out, she throws herself off a cliff. In many productions, Siegfried follows her.
“We changed the ending,” McFarland said. “In our version, they off the ledge but it’s a leap into the unknown. It allows her to shed her swan form and become human again and in the process, it kills the socerer. At the very end, she and the prince are there to watch the other swans get ready to make their transformations.”
“Swan Lake” features music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who also wrote the popular “Nutcracker Suite.” The plot has been used in movies, cartoons and video games.
Margie Schell has designed costumes for the Sidney production.
“You should see what she has done for the owl. It’s a 10-foot wing span,” McFarland said.
Odette is known as the white swan; Odile, as the black swan. They will be danced by Mariana Kellner and Kate Gothberg, respectively.
Kellner, 16, daughter of Jennifer and Ken Kellner, of Sidney, has been a Sidney Dance Company member for six years. So has Gothberg, 17, daughter of Kim and Kevin Gothberg, of Piqua. The dancers agreed that “Swan Lake” is the biggest piece they’ve ever undertaken to perform.
“It’s definitely more intense than anything I’ve done before. I’m the only one on pointe in all four acts. There’s also a lot of partnering work,” Gothberg said.
McFarland said that one reason to tackle “Swan Lake” was the dancers’ wish to take on something difficult.
“My company from last year approached me. ‘We want to do “Swan Lake,”’ they said. They filt it was a ballet that would elevate their technique,” McFarland said. “I don’t think they knew what they were getting into.”
She choreographed the work specifically to push the dancers past what they thought they could do. The “sheer amount of choreography” was a challenge in itself.
“We started rehearsing in October and we finished one of the biggest pas de deux (a dance for two people), Monday. I do it as I go to keep fresh ideas coming,” she said. McFarland had to stage the ballet for some 60 performers.
“I have a lot of people onstage at one time. It can get chaotic if it’s not planned out,” she said.
While 97 percent of the staging is McFarland’s, she has kept some of the most famous moments from historic productions. The “Dance of the Little Swans” in Act II has four dancers, with arms interlaced, moving sideways across the stage in 16 precision pas the chats (a leaping step). The black swan has a solo in which she must complete 32 fouettes, spins on pointe.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Gothberg said. “That’s been the biggest challenge of my role.” She noted that although she has been in many performances, this is the first one in which she will partner. She also relishes being the villain.
“I usually get cast as a sweet person, so it’s been a challenge to unleash my evil roots,” she said.
For her part, Kellner has found that moving her body like a swan is different from the other classical ballets she has done. And she, too, has enjoyed learning how to partner. But it’s the emotion of the story that has meant the most to her.
“The depth of the story — it’s very emotional. I’ve never done such an emotional ballet. I’ve been a part of ballets that are stories, but this one — all of the emotion takes part in all of your dancing. It takes it to another level,” Kellner said.
McFarland is proud of what the students have achieved.
“Anyone who comes to this production and sees not professional dancers — just the sheer scope of what these students were able to do is jsut fantastic. They’re invested in the story and in the show. It’s impressive,” she said.
Also in the cast are guest artist Sasha Casada as Siegfried; Anthony Kellner as Benno; O’Keefe Cooper as the prince’s friend and the court announcer; Jon Berry as Wolfgang; Tiffany Behr as Queen Mother; and Corey McFarland as Von Rothbart, the owl.
Also Kiris Fox, Mallory Godwin, Ella Gover, Katie Kogge, McKensie Osborne, Cadence Patterson, Reagan Paulus, Samantha Quinlisk, Elizabeth Shaw, Zoee Steele, Violet Aiken, Anika Arcikauskas, Maggie Bensman, Laurel Chalfant, Kara Kellner, Lauren King, Emma Keykens, Logan Shaw, Leah Zimmerman, Olivia Breinich, Summer Sprowl and Emily Short as peasants.
Also Gavin Bockrath, Ian Bonifas, Roger Miller, Noah Schwepe, Eli Straman, Dominic Reese and Gustav Gothberg as merrymakers; Caitlin Fenton, Nora Aiken, Alyssa Apple, Mariana Aguilar-Steele, Elizabeth Smedley, Cheyenne Maher, Grace Hockaday and Mariana Reese as ladies in waiting; Makenzi Cox, Lexi Elliott, Emma Poeppelman and Catherine Smedley as pages.
Also Dublin Cooper and Ethne Langston as servants; Faith Clinton, Katherine Gothberg and Savanah Koester in the pas de trois; Tiffany Behr, Faith Clinton, Kiris Fox, Mallory Godwin, Katherine Gothberg, Ella Gover, Savanah Koester, Katie Kogge, McKensie Osborne, Cadence Patterson, Reagan Paulus, Samantha Quinlisk, Elizabeth Shaw, Zoee Steele, Violet Aiken, Anika Arcikauskas, Maggie Bensman, Olivia Breinich, Laurel Chalfant, Kara Kellner, Emma Keykens, Lauren King, Logan Shaw, Emily Short, Summer Sprowl and Leah Zimmerman as the swan corps de ballet.
Also Grace Hockaday, Cheyenne Maher and Mariana Reese as teen swans; Catherine Smedley, Lexi Elliott, Makenzi Cox, Kamryn Dalinghaus, Emma Poeppelman, Mia O’Keefe, Ethne Langston, Dublin Cooper, Alyssa Apple, Mariana Aguilar-Steele, Elizabeth Smedley, Caitlin Fenton, Nora Aiken and Lyla Niekamp as intermediate swans; Aurora Smith, Portia Hill, Killarney Cooper, Heidi Elshoff, Jalyn Roll, Mia McFarland, Karly Gillman, Hayden Lewis and Emma Davis as little swans.
Also Kathryn Staugler, Maleigha Dotson, Anna Apple, Della Short, Nora Bates, Heidi Loraine-Bruns, Elizabeth Wolaver and Lydia Cavinder as baby swans; Caitlin Fenton, Nora Aiken, Alyssa Apple, Mariana Aguilar-Steele, Elizabeth Smedley, Cheyenne Maher, Grace Hockaday, Mariana Reese, Gavin Bockrath, Ian Bonifas, Roger Miller, Noah Schwepe, Eli Straman, Dominic Reese and Gustav Gothberg as courtiers; Kiris Fox, Ella Gover, Katie Kogge, McKensie Osborne, Reagan Paulus, Samantha Quinlisk as princesses.
Also Violet Aiken, Anika Arcikauskas, Laurel Chalfant, Emily Short and Leah Zimmerman as Hungarian dancers; Maggie Bensman, Kara Kellner, Lauren King and Logan Shaw as Spanish dancers; and Anika Arcikauskas, Olivia Breinich, Anthony Kellner, Emma Keykens and Summer Sprowl as Polish dancers.