Swan Lake has been around since 1895, forming the big three of Russian ballets along with Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. Swan Lake is known for its complexity and high level of dancing skills but not everyone knows the backstory of how Swan Lake was created or what the meaning of the ballet is.
Swan Lake tells the story of a prince who encounters a beautiful swan that transforms into a human princess by a sorcerer’s curse. “The ballet powerfully conveys to the audience through the mutual pursuit of love between the prince and the swan queen, the theme of the soul’s struggle towards idealized love and sacrifice against its imprisonment in the body of a ‘swan creature’”(Wunder, 2012).
The origins of Swan Lake are unclear; Swan Lake has been called a “national ballet” while others believe it is Russian due to the ideas of faithful love. There are very few records about the first production of Swan Lake but what is known is that Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake in less than a year after studying ballet composers Ludwig Minkus and Cesare Pungi.
After the first production of Swan Lake the critiques came back saying the music was too complex for ballet and too hard to dance to; but despite the criticism the show went on and set the standard for ballet productions. Swan Lake continues to be influential both inside and out of the ballet world, moving and exciting audiences and inspiring popular culture.