Esplanade Presents | da:ns festival


Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake

The Dance Factory (South Africa)
1hr (no intermission)
Esplanade Theatre

Advisory 16: Recommended for age 16 years and above. Contains female upper body nudity and mature themes.

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$20, $40*, $70**^, $100^

Concession for students, NSFs and seniors: $25*, $45**

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"Masilo has achieved something rare with her Swan Lake; it’s an entertainment that is full of heart and art, a poetic experience that seems to cleanse and cure us, at least for a few precious moments after the house lights come up."
"…this Swan Queen is barefoot and bald; and as Tchaikovsky’s plaintive violin melody begins, her movements incorporate balletic sweep and the grounded, hip-shaking, stamping notes of African dance."
The New York Times
"Her dance idiom, performed by an excellent cast, feels both natural and expressive – feet pointed and stamped; arms graciously curved; buttocks flourished like tail feathers…"
The Guardian

Noisy, humorous, earthy – this is Swan Lake as you have never seen before. The best-known work of South African dancer-choreographer Dada Masilo, Swan Lake overturns the traditional love story and hijacks the codes of classical ballet. Here, African dance styles rub shoulders with ballet and contemporary moves, and both men and women are swans. In between arabesques, there are stomping bare feet, swaying hips and energetic hoots against a score by Tchaikovsky, Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt. Masilo herself plays a fiery and kinetic version of Odette.

Masilo breathes new life into this classic story with a powerful reflection on prejudice and freedom. Against their wishes, Odette and Siegfried are forced into an arranged marriage. But Siegfried struggles to speak the truth that he longs for the male swan Odile. Trapped within the conventions their society has enforced, the trio search to reconcile their hopeless situation expressed through poetic choreography.

An alumnus of the renowned P.A.R.T.S institution in Brussels, Masilo is renowned for her reinterpretations of classics of the Western dance canon, which fuse ballet, contemporary and African dance seamlessly. Her arresting physical vocabulary emerged from the desire to enable dancers of diverse bodies to perform the great stories in dance. Performed with spirited dancing, by turns generously funny and poignant, Swan Lake will evoke laughter and tears.

About Dada Masilo
Born in 1985, Masilo grew up in Soweto, South Africa. She studied classical and contemporary dance in South Africa, followed by two years in Brussels at the renowned school Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S), where she was one of 30 candidates chosen from 250 applicants. There, Masilo created a solo The Dying Swan as a tribute to her aunt, who had died of AIDS—this starting point would lead her to later create her reimagined Swan Lake.

Masilo fuses ballet and contemporary dance with African dance steps to create her unique high-speed style. Working in South Africa late 2006, she began to create full-length works based on her love of great stories from ballet such as Carmen and Romeo & Juliet. Swan Lake was the first ballet she had seen as a child. “Like many young dancers, (Masilo) dreamed of one day dancing in such a Swan Lake, though it became clear to her that, as a dancer, she wasn’t going to attain that position in a classical ballet company.” ( Today, Masilo’s Swan Lake has toured South Africa and Europe extensively to standing ovations.

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