Virtual Museum

Virtual Museum

Swan Lake

Prince Siegfried jacket

Prince Siegfried jacket from Act II designed by Desmond Heeley (ca. 1977). Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Erik Bruhn shifted the thematic drive of his Swan Lake from the traditional battle between good and evil, to the power, both constructive and destructive, of women. The Prince is a young romantic confronted with conflicting emotions brought on by four women – his dominant mother, the pure Swan Queen, the evil Black Queen and the sensual Black Swan. One of the most controversial changes made by Bruhn was the addition of the Black Queen, a re-envisioned female version of the traditional Von Rothbart character. 

Bruhn also expanded the character of Prince Siegfried and created more dance and dramatic opportunities for male dancers. Some of the celebrated dancers who have performed this challenging role with the National Ballet include Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Augustyn, Peter Schaufuss and Rex Harrington

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Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.