The swan’s skeleton in a corner on the stage symbolises Fabre’s dissection of the basic principles of this classical ballet, which is performed by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Subsequently several animal skeletons will be lowered from above. Fabre rewrote the entire choreography of the first and third acts of this famous ballet by Marius Petipa to music by Tchaikovsky.
He examined the relation between the soloist and the corps de ballet in an unusual manner for the second and fourth acts. His recreation of this ballet is an attempt to penetrate the savage tumult contained under the reflective fairytale surface of this ballet, without the ballast of the sugar-sweet cover under which it has been concealed for years. The theme of death, transformation and rebirth is the main theme of this performance. One of the main allegorical figures is the dwarf who continuously changes shapes (devil, cupid, knight or wild animal). A true schemer, he reveals ballet to be an art form which thrives in a realm after death. He continuously stabs the dancers, after which they come alive again. According to Fabre these contrasts are barometers for the insusceptibility of reality. Another important character is that of the court jester with the skull on the back of his head: he serves as the dwarf’s counterpart and always tells the truth. Each act is introduced by the mysterious and penetrating glance of the owl, a well-known symbol in Fabre’s work.
choreography and scenography Jan Fabre assistant to Jan Fabre Renée Copraij danced by the Royal Ballet of Flanders rehearsal coach acts II & IV Chris Latré costume design Alexandre Vassiliev, Daphne Kitschen and Jan Fabre assistant to the scenographer Daphne Kitschen lighting Jan Fabre & Jan Dekeyser music Piotr Tchaikovsky orchestra Flemish Radio Orchestra conductor Koen Kessels
production Royal Ballet of Flanders (Antwerp, Belgium) in collaboration with Troubleyn (Antwerp, Belgium)
première 22.03.2002, Concertgebouw Bruges