So today I went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
at the local theatre (by myself, because I only found out it was on here on Friday, and it finishes today, and then when I called up I got quite literally the only ticket remaining. I was very impressed with my luck.) In case you haven't heard of it, this particular production is famous because rather than the swans being female and the love interest being a transformed princess, in this version all the swans are MALE. And the Prince falls in love with a Swan Prince.
It's a really drastic re-imagining compared to the original story, if I'm honest (though I didn't actually know the story when I went - I read it online afterwards! Badly prepared!) BUT. But. It was so, so beautiful. All the dancers were amazing, but the Prince and the Swan Prince had such wonderful line and grace to their dancing, and unusually wonderful acting, too - their expressions held such yearning! And when the Swan Prince protected the Prince from the other swans, the look on his face just made me ache.
Of course, it helped that the guy playing the Swan Prince was TOTALLY SMOKING HOT. Just sayin'.
On top of their technical proficiency as dancers, one of the things I thought was really interesting about the production was the way in which the man cast as the Prince was very young-looking and slender compared to the heavier, more muscular and older-looking Swan Prince, subverting the traditional male/female roles of the piece. In addition to this, the male/female roles in their dances together ebbed and flowed between them so that neither was exclusively in the more submissive role; this made it more equal between the two and avoided feminising one of them, which would effectively cancel out the impact of the swans' gender change. It was like the very best slash - keeping both of them male without sacrificing the romantic elements between them.
The swans in general were very well done, and in fact very sinister as a group at times. Partly this was the stark black eye make-up against a general whitening of their skin, but the choreography really contributed to making them menacing, and the Swan Prince was at turns menacing or seductive. It felt at times more like it was really telling the story of a straight man falling in love with another man.
I don't know how much longer it's on tour, but if you get a chance to, really, really do take it. It's got me all fired up and imagining.