Odette + Odile —
The role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake is one that requires true balance. The dual roles require artistry that seamlessly blends with perfect technique.
Current and former Principal Ballerinas discuss their approach to the role and their most memorable performance of Swan Lake.
"In terms of the classical ballet repertoire Odette/Odile is absolutely one of the most challenging roles. Unlike other iconic roles, in a single performance you aren't just portraying the one character but fully embodying two completely opposing characters and personalities. You have the soft, vulnerable Odette and the malicious and manipulative Odile. To be believable in both these roles is incredibly challenging as pretty much every ballerina has a preference and tendency towards one more than the other. Luckily Tchaikovsky's score is so beautifully eloquent and rich in character and drama that I find so much of my characterization can be drawn from responding to his stunning music."
Soloist, Queensland Ballet
"The role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake is both mentally and technically challenging. Usually as a dancer you go through a transformation and show the growth of a character throughout a performance. However, in Swan Lake you are required to go on stage with two very different fully formed characters in the same production.
My most memorable performance of Swan Lake is when I was a Guest Artist with the Slovenian National Ballet. I had no days off for a month, I was there on Saturdays and Sundays learning the role. The second cast then became injured so I had no understudy and had to go on every performance. However, I still loved my time there and it was a stunning place to perform. We also toured the production to Italy, where I would open my dressing room window and my view was the ocean!
I am looking forward to performing the work again for audiences in Brisbane."
Principal Dancer, Queensland Ballet
"Throughout my career I performed three versions of Swan Lake - Dame Beryl Grey's, John Field's and Natalia Makarova's. My favourite to perform was Natalia's version as her musicality was just so gorgeous... she made the pas de deux the highlight of the White Act.
Personally, I found the role of Odile easier to portray as she is so flamboyant. Odette is much more shy and restrained, I had to work very hard on my arms and hands to convince both myself and the audience. I even worked on Sunday's for a private rehearsal dragging my partner and Ballet Mistress with me.
My most memorable performance of Swan Lake was performing the dual role three months after giving birth to my first born. It was memorable as I had no sleep as she was not well."
Former Principal Dancer, English National Ballet
Queensland Ballet, Ballet Mistress and Artistic Coordinator