Country South Africa

Discipline Dance

Audience Youth | Adults

Recomended for +14

Duration 58 minutes

Language English, Xhosa and Zulu

Dates January 18 and 19, 20.00h / January 20, 18.00h

Warning Partial nudity

This new version stands apart from so many others, not only for the fresh and fast-paced style that comes with the addition of African dance, comic theater and carnival, but for its wit and seriousness in handling the original ballet’s themes

The Guardian

This explosive version of Swan Lake is a kind of revenge: when she was little, choreographer Dada Masilo knew she could never star in her favorite ballet because, in South Africa at least, you had to be white to play a princess. One of the most renowned young artists of contemporary dance, this dancer’s response was to reinvent the piece from beginning to end. Heroic Prince Siegfried, married to Princess Odette (played by Masilo), falls hopelessly in love with another man, Odile. Inverting genders, dressing her 13 - all African – dancers in feathers and tutus and reinventing the roles of the main characters, the choreographer creates a new, contemporary and daring piece that brings topics such as homophobia, AIDS, Africa’s roots and the traces left by the European colonization of her country to the fore, without losing any of the original ballet’s beauty and subtlety. From South Africa, Dada Masilo provides a fresh and uninhibited take on one of the most popular ballets of all time.

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Direction and choreography

Dada Masilo

South Africa, 1985

Dada Masilo is one of the most famous choreographers and dancers in her country, acclaimed for her original and daring reinterpretations of classical ballets such as Romeo and Julieta and Carmen, for which she has received numerous awards. Though young, she has toured the world with her pieces - eclectic fusions of classical, contemporary and African dance – touching on themes such as racism and homophobia. Her pieces have been performed at important venues such as Sadler's Well in London, the Joyce Theater in New York, the Lyon Dance Biennale, the Quai Branly Museum and the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.

Choreographer Dada Masilo | Company Dada Masilo/The Dance Factory Johannesburg | Dancers Nicola Haskins/Liyabuya Gongo (Siegfried’s mother); Dada Masilo (Odette); Xola Willie/Tshepo Zasekhaya (Siegfried); Llewellyn Mnguni/Thami Tshabalala (Odile); Henk Opperman (Siegfried’s father); Khaya Ndlovu/Zandile Constable (Odette’s mother); Ipeleng Merafe, Khaya Ndlovu, Zandile Constable, Nadine Buys, Liyabuya Gongo (female swans); Llewellyn Mnguni, Thami Tshabalala, Tshepo Zasekhaya, Xola Willie, Steven Mokone (male swans) Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Steve Reich, René Avenant, Camille Saint-Saëns, Arvo Pärt (with musical arrangements by Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company) | Costume designer Dada Masilo, Suzette Le Sueur | Costume makers Ann & Kirsten Bailes | Producer and lighting designer Suzette Le Sueur

  • It’s Dada Masilo’s first production in Chile and South America. An international contemporary dance star with a unique style and original way of interpreting Western ballet, she mixes together elements of classical, contemporary and African dance. “My approach is to show that contemporary African dance and ballet can co-exist. I believe that we need to break down the barriers that exist between them because they are nothing but restrictions”, the choreographer has said.

  • Swan Lake is a unique opportunity to see something artistic created in South Africa and, on a wider scale, in Africa itself, since the continent’s productions rarely make it to South America.

  • Dada Masilo’s version is a post-colonial, multicultural and crucially gender-centric rewrite of one of ballet and classical music’s key pieces. Not only does the choreography reinvent a fundamental piece of Western music, it also adds new elements to the mix, such as racism and homophobia.
  • The ballet was performed to critical acclaim In Europe and the United States at world-renowned venues, such as Sadler’s Wells in London, the Joyce Theater in New York, the Lyon Dance Biennale, the Quai Branly Museum and the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.

  • As well as its famous score by Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake includes music by the renowned Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, a forerunner of minimalist music, as well as by Steve Reich, René Avenant and Camille Saint-Saëns. Masilo created a solo based on the latter’s piece, The Swan, in honor of her aunt, who died of AIDS. South Africa is currently the country most affected by this epidemic in the world.
  • South Africa. The history of this multicultural country with 11 official languages has been influenced over the last few centuries by Dutch and British colonizers, who left their mark on society. Although the majority of the population are people of color, until 1993, it was the only African country governed by a white majority. From the nineteenth century, racial segregation known as apartheid - abolished in 1992 – was in force as an institutionalized form of discrimination that Dada Masilo herself experienced during her childhood. Her work, a fusion of Western ballet and African dance, is a clear reflection of the mixture of cultures in her country.

  • Swan Lake. This universal masterpiece of Russian ballet and classical dance, known for being demanding and requiring a high degree of technical skill, was premiered in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theater. It is still the most performed ballets in the world and its score by Tchaikovsky is still one of the most famous pieces of classical music. Its story is based around the tragic love story that brings together Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette, victim of a spell cast by an evil sorcerer that turns her into a swan by day; a romantic allegory for the eternal struggle between good and evil.

«Dada Masilo ruffles feathers with this gay remake. The choreographer brings comedy, carnival and African dance to a hallowed classic and ends up with something totally new»

The Guardian

«Dada Masilo turns Tchaikovsky on his head in Swan Lake»

The New York Times

«This daring and extremely energetic interpretation of a young woman fighting against the homophobia that reigns in her country uses completely original weapons and humor to boot!»

Télérama

This new version stands apart from so many others, not only for the fresh and fast-paced style that comes with the addition of African dance, comic theater and carnival, but for its wit and seriousness in handling the original ballet’s themes

The Guardian

«Dada Masilo ruffles feathers with this gay remake. The choreographer brings comedy, carnival and African dance to a hallowed classic and ends up with something totally new»

The Guardian

«Dada Masilo turns Tchaikovsky on his head in Swan Lake»

The New York Times

«This daring and extremely energetic interpretation of a young woman fighting against the homophobia that reigns in her country uses completely original weapons and humor to boot!»

Télérama

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