This performance was to be seen in March 2019


Nationale Opera & Ballet, Grote Zaal

Running time

3:25, 2 breaks



Woman in tutu

Ballet of ballets

Swan Lake is often called the ‘ballet of ballets’, and no version captures the emotional eloquence of the story like this one by Rudi van Dantzig.

Ballet of ballets

Like Tchaikovsky’s famous music for Swan LakeVan Dantzig’s choreography continues to capture the hearts of each new generation. This first and only Dutch production of the ‘ballet of ballets’ has been almost unanimously hailed by critics not only as a milestone of dance history in the Netherlands but also as far surpassing most other interpretations of Swan Lake.


For his version of Swan Lake (1988), Van Dantzig mainly drew on not only Tchaikovsky’s score, but also his letters and journals, interpreting the ballet’s premise of a young man who must acquire a bride but fails as a direct reflection of the composer’s own life and supposed homosexuality.

Swan lake, a man and a woman are standing at the center, at the sides in the shadows are more dancers

Siegfried, Odette en Odile

In this reinterpretation of Swan Lake, the story’s male protagonist, Prince Siegfried, has more depth and character than in other versions. Odette, the White Swan, is no longer a woman transformed into a swan and held captive by an evil sorcerer, but a symbol of the purity and sincerity of Siegfried’s ideals. However, by giving in to material, sensual temptations – symbolised by Odile, the Black Swan – Siegfried betrays those ideals.

Emotional eloquence

Swan Lake (1895) is one of the triad of great nineteenth-century Russian ballets, alongside The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, in which the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa elevated both ballet music and dance to the highest level. Van Dantzig’s choreography respects the surviving parts of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s original ballet of 1895, leaving the second act and several other famous scenes – including the spectacular ‘Black Swan pas de deux’ with its 32 fouetté turns – virtually unchanged. However, his own choreography’s emphasis on the story as a human struggle gives this version a profound emotional eloquence.

Dutch masters

Where Petipa turned to Ivanov to help him create the original Swan Lake, Van Dantzig called on the many talents of his friend and long-time partner Toer van Schayk for his own new version. Van Schayk choreographed the colourful folk dances at Siegfried’s birthday celebration in the third act and designed the imposing sets and costumes that bring to life the ‘golden’ paintings of the seventeenth-century Dutch masters.

Dutch National Ballet will perform Swan Lake again in the 2022/2023 season. More information about the production and ticket sales can be found via the link below.

Een man en een vrouw

Musical accompaniment

Dutch Ballet Orchestra

Since its inception in 1965, the orchestra has been proud to accompany its partners, Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. The working method is unique in the Netherlands. Dutch Ballet Orchestra, with Matthew Rowe as principal conductor, consists of a regular core of 45 musicians, supported where necessary by highly qualified guest performers. This gives the orchestra its unique character: flexible, dynamic and high-quality.
Dutch Ballet Orchestra combines music and dance into a magical experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, and from music education to talent development. The orchestra’s mission is to create an optimal synthesis between music and dance, in order to reach dance-lovers and ballet music enthusiasts, as well as children and youngsters. The orchestra has received several international awards for its educational projects, including the Young Audiences Music Award in 2016 for Creatures, a collaborative project with dance company ISH.