Reason as the Leading Motive

“Don’t be a Gay Swan”

Posted by Jerry on February 23, 2006

So, last night I went to see a beautiful and powerful performance of The Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne, also dubbed as the “gay swan lake” as all the “swan” characters are played by men (gay or not, I don’t know).

I’m at a loss for words to describe my experience, except to briefly say that I enjoyed it immensely. Tchaikovsky’s music in this ballet is among the most inspiring and moving pieces of music I have heard in my entire life. I first heard the score to the ballet many years ago as a young boy – ofcourse, at the time being fully naive about any details or history surrounding it. But I remember being struck by its uplifting power, by the strength of its crescendo, by its awe-inspiring sense of life. I remember dancing around my bedroom to the music, as a psychologically self-appointed melodramatic dancer.

The ballet performance itself was pretty strong – though I had a problem with the bare chested swan sweating so profusely that his wet, soaked chest glistened under the theater lights. I wished somebody would just get on stage and wipe the sweat off the poor swan.

Anyway. Since I am finding myself quite incapable of reviewing the performance, I shall let the following excerpts speak for me.

This part review is from NewsPlanet staff at PlanetOut.com

When the first news of Bourne’s London staging of “Swan Lake” — with the swans played by men, it’s bare-chested corps de ballet wearing feather-covered shorts — people dubbed it the “gay Swan Lake” and no one expected to receive it as serious art. (Actually, a gay “Swan Lake” would be perfectly reasonable, since its composer, Tschaikovsky, was himself a gay man, albeit deeply troubled by his orientation through nearly all his life.) However, the flash of insight he says led him to realize that the size, power and violence of swans was more suggestive of male dancers than females seems to have paid off. He also tampered at length with the story, characters and setting, turning it into a 20th century tale with plenty of palace intrigue, humor and satire, designed to appeal to film fans more than a traditional ballet audience. The original music and the most basic love triangle tragedy remains, with the Prince who meets Swan and falls in love, only to fall under the spell of another, wicked Swan, climaxing in the suicides of the Prince and his first-loved Swan. As for just how gay the all-male show really is, Bourne wants people to find their own meanings in the production, and says many have discovered things he never imagined.

And this one by David Roberts from Theater Reviews Limited:

Matthew Bourne has created an intense psychological drama. His choice of male swans is exactly what Tchaikovsy’s music requires. These beautiful bare chested dancers (and the black leathered version of The Swan at the party) are the perfect medium for the Prince to discover and celebrate his sexuality. And although the Prince is unashamedly gay, “Swan Lake” is universal in its appeal and accessible to all persons who know what it means to be misunderstood, confused about sexuality and love, and long for intimacy and relationship.


2 Responses to ““Don’t be a Gay Swan””

  1. Aethlos said

    omg… isn’t this the same thing my friend BLANK RUNES saw? i thought i was confusing your blog entries at first, but you guys must have seen the same show. synchronicity.

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