Swan Lake

Directed and Staged by Karen Kain

March 8 – 22, 2025

Swan Lake

Directed and Staged by Karen Kain

March 8 – 22, 2025


Set to Tchaikovsky’s dramatic score, Swan Lake is the epitome of classical ballet, beloved the world over for its drama, achingly beautiful score and timeless choreography. Artistic Director Emerita Karen Kain emphasizes the love story at the heart of Swan Lake in this staging inspired by Erik Bruhn’s landmark version but told through her unique experience of the work. Newly revisited this season, Swan Lake is a heartfelt commemoration of Kain’s illustrious 50-year career with The National Ballet of Canada.

Swan Lake Trailer

The Story

One night in a faraway kingdom, Odette joins her friends by the lake, unaware she has entered the lair of an evil predator, Rothbart. Part man and part bird, Rothbart casts a spell enslaving Odette to live by day as a swan. Only a pledge of true love and fidelity will set her free. When the kingdom’s eligible royal, Siegfried, falls in love with Odette, Rothbart conjures a trick to keep them apart – Odile, a ravishing imitation of Odette.

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Fast Facts
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Swan Lake View Gallery

The Creator

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 in stage and film. Kain led the National Ballet as Artistic Director with great success from 2005 until she stepped down in June 2021 and was named Artistic Director Emerita.

The Score

Swan Lake was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s first commission for ballet. While it did not premiere with the full ballet until 1895, after the composer’s death and revised by Riccardo Drigo, Tchaikovsky brought incredible drama to the music. His use of melody and vibrant orchestration have made Swan Lake one of the most admired and recognizable ballet scores in the world.


“Karen Kain’s Swan Lake soars on romantic wings… a triumph.” – The Hamilton Spectator

“a quietly radical feminist take” – CBC Radio’s q

“Goes beyond the classic’s tragic romance… these swans epitomize female friendship.” – The Globe and Mail

“A breath of fresh air… Swan Lake is a story of romantic love, but this version is also about sisterhood and feels more modern…. distinctive and memorable.” – Dance View Times

Swan Lake soars… Stunning.” – Broadway World Toronto


Casting will be announced on our eNewsletter, Ballet News, and on social media and will be posted here approximately two weeks prior to the opening. Please note, casting is always subject to change.


Directed and Staged by:
Karen Kain, C.C., LL.D., D.Litt., O.Ont.

Karen Kain, Christopher Stowell and Robert Binet after Erik Bruhn, Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake, Opus 20 (1875-76) 

Set, Property and Costume Design:
Gabriela Týlešová

Lighting Designer:
Bonnie Beecher

Projection Designer:
Sean Nieuwenhuis

World Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, June 10, 2022 

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., K.C., The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, Nancy Pencer, Sandra Pitblado, C.M. & Jim Pitblado, C.M., 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 (2022): 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, JerryLozinski, O.C. & Joan Lozinski, O.C., The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado, C.M. & 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 Sylvie Allard & Brian O’Keefe, Judi Conacher, Sherry & Edward Drew, The H. John McDonald Foundation and Julie Medland.

Union Support credits

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