World Premiere

Swan Lake

Directed and Staged by Karen Kain

June 5 – 21, 2020

World Premiere

Swan Lake

Directed and Staged by Karen Kain

June 5 – 21, 2020

About the Ballet

Swan Lake Overview

Set to Tchaikovsky’s glittering score, Swan Lake is the epitome of classical ballet, beloved the world over for its lyricism, musicality and masterful choreography, and for a love story that is both symbolic and intimate. Artistic Director Karen Kain gives renewed emphasis to the romance of Swan Lake – to Prince Siegfried and his beloved Odette – in a brand new staging, choreographed after Erik Bruhn’s landmark version in celebration of her 50th Anniversary with The National Ballet of Canada.

The Story

Prince Siegfried is approaching his 21st birthday and must soon choose a bride. Brooding, he goes on a hunt and takes aim at a swan, when it transforms into a beautiful woman, Odette. They fall in love. Odette has been cursed by the evil Rothbart to live as a swan by day and a woman by night. Only a pledge of true love will break the spell. But Rothbart tricks Siegfried into declaring his love for the wrong woman, the black swan Odile.


Hannah Fischer and Karen Kain at a Swan Lake photo shoot. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Five Things About Swan Lake
The Director

Karen Kain joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1969 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1971. Over the course of her dancing career, she collaborated with top choreographers, toured internationally and worked on stage and in film as a guest artist. She has led the National Ballet as Artistic Director with great success since 2005. Ms. Kain will retire from the company in January 2021.

“At this point in my career, 50 years on, the thing that continues to drive me is my love for the art form and for the National Ballet. Swan Lake has been a huge part of my artistic life and holds a special place in my heart. With this new staging, I want to accentuate the romantic core and the love story that provides the ballet with its powerful, emotional life.” Artistic Director Karen Kain
The Composer

The late 19th century Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most popular works in the classical repertoire, particularly his three full-length scores for ballet: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. His body of work includes full-length operas, multiple symphonies and concertos.


Directed and Staged by:
Karen Kain, C.C., LL.D., D.Litt., O.Ont. after Erik Bruhn, Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa

Additional Choreography and Staging by:
Christopher Stowell and Robert Binet

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Set, Property and Costume Designer:
Gabriela Týlešová

Lighting Designer:
Bonnie Beecher

Projection Designer:
Sean Nieuwenhuis

Design Associate, Wardrobe:
Marjory Fielding

Design Associate, Set & Properties:
Joshua Quinlan

Produced and commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada. 

Lead philanthropic support for Swan Lake is provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with generous underwriting from Richard M. Ivey, C.C., an anonymous friend of the National Ballet, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C. The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, Nancy Pencer, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Lawrence Schafer Foundation, Gretchen Ross & Donald Ross, O.C., Anne-Marie Canning, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Tim & Frances Price, The Volunteer Committee of The National Ballet of Canada, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M. and Aaron & Heather Regent. Additional support provided by The Producers’ Circle.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Harry & Lillian Seymour Family Foundation, Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.

The National Ballet also acknowledges support for Swan Lake provided by Judi Conacher, Sherry and Edward Drew and Julie Medland.

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Karen Kain – 50 Glorious Years

2019/20 marks Artistic Director Karen Kain’s 50th anniversary with The National Ballet of Canada.

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