A ballerina in a white tutu doing a split jump.

What to Know Before Attending the Swan Lake Ballet

Swan Lake Ballet

When Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake, he had no idea it would still be one of the most esteemed ballets in the world more than 100 years later. He originally wrote the Swan Lake ballet for his nieces and nephews in 1871. It’s based on a German fairytale and tells the love story of Siegfried the prince, and Odette, the swan princess. An evil sorcerer cast a spell on her, and during the day, Odette is a swan. However, at night, she turns into a young woman. The only way to break the spell is if a man promises to love her forever. Siegfried falls in love with Odette and makes the promise. But the sorcerer tricks Siegfried and casts a spell on him to fall in love with the sorcerer's daughter instead and forget about Odette. This romantic ballet is unforgettable and haunting.

Why is Swan Lake So Popular?

Tchaikovsky died in 1893 and never got to experience the success of Swan Lake. The audience and the media alike heavily criticized its first performance. The composer himself labeled it as, "a humiliating disappointment." However, in 1895, the ballet was revived by Petipa and Ivanov, and it became a huge success.

Here are a few reasons why the show is so popular today.

It Gives You Hope

Tchaikovsky was a devout Christian who believed in life after death. Many people have a difficult time accepting that death is final. Some people who do not have faith even live in fear of dying and leaving their loved ones behind because they do not know what is next.

At the end of the performance, the prince and the swan queen commit suicide to free themselves from the evil spell. Although their physical existence on Earth has ended, the lovers meet again in the afterlife. This hopeful ending is always met with a standing ovation. Although suicide is tragic, it gives people hope that there is a better life after this one.

Realistic Symbolism

Odette is the white swan. She is a symbol of the perfect woman. However, a spell has been cast on Siegfried to fall in love with the black swan. She symbolizes shameful sexual desires that a man continues having even though he has found the perfect woman. It is believed that Tchaikovsky was secretly gay and that the black swan represented his repressed desires.

Where to See Swan Lake

You can see Swan Lake in many theaters in the U.S., including the David H. Koch Theater in New York, New Jersey Performing Arts Center in New Jersey and the Palace Theater in Connecticut. TicketMaster can also let you know whether the ballet is coming to your town.

Ticket prices vary depending on the location and venue size. The show is very popular, and it sells out quickly, which can cause an increase in the cost of the tickets. In addition, some venues will give you access to a VIP section for an additional fee. But in general, you can expect to pay as low as $49 and as high as $1,694 for tickets. The average price is around $396.37.

Etiquette at a Ballet

Attending a ballet is a surreal experience, but they are not like other theater performances. There are a few things you need to know.

Dress Code

There are unspoken rules for the dress code when attending a ballet performance. Most people prefer to wear something classy. This is especially true if it is the opening night because the atmosphere is slightly more formal. In most cases, the theater will not tell you how to dress, but the environment calls for a bit more effort than sweat pants and sneakers.

Get There Early

Ballets are very intense, and you will likely miss the first part of the show if you turn up late. The majority of theaters open their doors around 30 minutes before the performance starts, with the aim being that people will arrive early and find their seats prior to the curtains going up. Most theaters have strict guidelines about late attendance and will make you wait until intermission before joining the show.

Do Not Bring Young Children

As mentioned, ballets are intense, and audience members need to understand the performance fully. Young children have a short attention span, and in most cases, they will not sit quietly through a performance. To avoid causing disruptions, do not bring young children to a show.

Turn Off Your Phone

There is nothing worse than a cell phone ringing and pinging during a performance. Turn it off before going into the theater. You can check your messages during the intermission.

Final Thoughts

Swan Lake is a breathtaking and unforgettable performance. This soaring spectacle is a timeless classic that is just as relevant today as when it first hit the stage in 1877.