Queensland Ballet's Swan Lake.
Queensland Ballet's Swan Lake. brisbanetimes.com.au/Ken Sparrow

A new take on Swan Lake

QUEENSLAND Ballet's current production of Swan Lake is a wonderfully self-referential tangle.

Choreographed by François Klaus with intermittent nods to the traditional performance, this is actually the adapted true story of a dancer whose tragic romance with Tsar Nicholas II mirrors the original Swan Lake plot.

Don't be confused. Here's how it works. Russian ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska was one of the stars of The Imperial Ballet in the late 19th century. While living in exile in France after the Russian Revolution, she wrote a memoir of her life and romance with Tsar Nicholas II.

François Klaus saw parallels between their tragic story and the tale of doomed love between princess-turned-swan Odette, and her would-be saviour Prince Siegfried. As a result Klaus's ballet chronicles a similarly epic story of jealousy, devotion, betrayal and tragedy.

Clare Morehen as Mathilde makes all this complication look easy. And that is precisely what you want from a ballerina. It's clear she is in her element. Morehen handles the transition from workaday ballerina to graceful swan with ease; a little restless shake of her head is all we need to be reminded of her birdlike qualities.

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