CULTURE

A daring approach to Swan Lake

The choreographer and art director of the State Theater of Northern Greece Dance Theater, Constantinos Rigos, has created an entirely new story from Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet «Swan Lake.» «Memory of the Swan» is the group’s latest production which opened last Friday at the Center of Macedonian Studies. Though based on the classic tale of Odette and Odile, Rigos has diverged from the original and has composed a modern, somewhat racy show, a «black comedy,» he explains, with many contemporary social and political references. «Inspired by the adventures of Odette and Siegfried, I started with a series of short, improvised dances until I discovered the core of the performance – man in contemporary society,» explains Rigos. «I brought to the forefront the main themes of the ballet, which are unrequited love, the curse, the black and white swan, entrapment in the swan’s body and in the confines of the lake. «The lake symbolizes contemporary man’s restriction by social norms. Thus, the performance unfolds like a ‘circus of human behavior,’ answering questions on how human relationships are formed, how trapped the characters are and how, finally, individuals are affected by the social context which surrounds them.» Rigos’s interpretation emphasizes the idea of man as a political being and the human body as a political tool, rather than an extension of love. The ballet is set in a campsite which is home to all the characters – great and small, good and evil, wealthy and poor – and from which they are all trying to escape. The only way out, according to the choreographer, is a sense of humor. «What we see is a world which seems to have been torn apart but is, in fact, a simple irony,» he says. «Everything seems to be hanging in the balance between the tragic and the comic; even though the performance is rather harsh.» The choreography unfolds like the ribbons of a maypole – winding around each character in turn, without however, stopping to focus on one specific individual. Fifteen dancers of the State Theater of Northern Greece and musicians Telemachos Mousas and Apostolos Leventopoulos make up the cast of this performance who relate the stories of their lives. They are brought together by Tchaikovsky’s melodies, translated into a modern setting by Rigos and performed on guitars and complemented by classic ballads of the 1950s and ’60s. «Though the performance gives the appearance of being set in the 1950s and ’60s, it is not. It seems to be set in America, but closer scrutiny shows that the characters could come from any corner of the Earth. Each one speaks his/her own language (Greek, English, Albanian) and renders his own, personal world,» comments Rigos. The texts for the performance were written by Elena Pegga, the sets designed by Kenny MacKlennan, the costumes by Rigos and Natasha Dimitriou, and the visuals are by Dimitris Kourtakis. ‘Memory of the Swan,’ opened for the season last Friday at the Center for Macedonian Studies, 2 Ethnikis Amynas, Thessaloniki, tel 0310.263.300.