Josefin Gladh on Drömmen om Svansjön

Dear stranger,

if your eyes can´t see perfection, in the end I would say you don´t miss much. Perfection and symmetri being highly beautiful and deeply satisfying but when there is nothing more it soon gets pretty boring. We look desperately for a gap, anything that can tear the slumbery mood of ours. During the performance Drömmen om Svansjön at the Opera house the only thing we get is a technical fail. Something that looks like ”low battery” is suddenly shown from the projection on one of the pillars in the scenography, and stays for about 10 seconds. A small embarrassament that fractures the fictional magic, but not in a very interesting way.

Someone named ”Critical dance” cited on the website of Operan, calling the evening ”truly satisfying”. Of course it was, like fine dining, making you full of food and empy of thoughts. Choreographer Pär Isberg says (at Operan´s website) that also in the world of ballet we find art´s ability to touch people. ”Also” implies a justification? If so, maybe beacause it´s neeeded. When walking home after the performance I feel overwhelmed, but more from the abundance of visual impression than by the usual buzzing thoughts about life, art, love, mythologi, etc. triggered by interesting art. Mostly my head felt tired from three hours watching a repetoir that is limited and repetitive.

Pär Isbergs Drömmen om Svansjön plays with the traditional staging of Swan lake but the tranformation is insignificant. When letting the story oscillate between the reality of the ballet reharsal room and the dreamy state of the fairy tale, Isberg is adding another layer of fiction. The dusty mirrors in the scenography strengthens this take on the classical production. It works well, perhaps posing a question; are we permitted to fulfill our dreams? The play with fictional layers could potentially have put something at risk, but in the traditional theatre room constituted by the Opera house that doesn´t happen, as the fictional agreements are already deeply established and over explicit.

There is the janus-faced narrative, the conventional conflict between good and evil, the transformation of the lead character and the inner conflict that occurs when drawn between two polemic forces. All the symbolic connotations and the mythological aspect of the swan etc. None of those topics are mediatated in an intelligent and non-shallow way. The forcing form of ballet, in this case, is not being useful to update the narrative. The potentially interesting themes dissolves in the schematic structure of ballet. Princess/swan Odette´s movement language do not change a bit as she transforms into the black swan, nor does her charachter. She´s simply taking on an black tutu skirt instead of the white one.

I won´t describe to you all the tours and turns and steps and jumps, there´s no need. If you see Drömmen om Svansjön without your sight, I guess your hearing is amplified. You´ll listen to the music and it´s all good. The dance illustrates the music, and the story is not even that interesting. You will hear all the dramatic curves and create your own story.

Josefin Gladh