Romance is taking flight in Falmouth as the Maine State Ballet has started a run of “Swan Lake” at its cozy Lopez Theater. The classic tale is colorfully told through the poetry of dance and theater by dozens of performers, both veteran and novice.

In both large and small ways, it’s a visually rich production, balancing grand, celebratory passages with exquisitely subtle moments as the central love story unfolds.

On opening night, Rhiannon Pelletier gave an appropriate sense of struggle to the gradual metamorphosis of her character, Odette, from spellbound Swan Queen to the subject of the affections of young Prince Siegfried. Her graceful arm and hand movements and fluttering steps soon evolved from bird-like to decidedly human expressions as she partnered with Nathaniel Dombek.

The sense for fragile vulnerability that Pelletier gave to her Odette was powerfully countered in her second role as Odile, the famous black swan who tries to entice Siegfried by imitating Odette. Making the most of the mission of seduction given to her by her sorcerer father, Rothbart, Pelletier’s Odile took full advantage of her wiles in sensual passages that mimic Odette without ever arriving at her more delicate allure.

Dombek’s Prince, boyishly forthright until smitten with Odette, partnered effectively with Pelletier in both her characterizations. While the contrasting attractions of Odette/Odile obviously confused him greatly, the prince was under a spell greater than what even a sorcerer could control.

As Rothbart, veteran Frederick Bernier, in a devilish, bat-like costume by Gail Csoboth, was a fright as he pursued his evil plot among the traditionally dressed ballerinas and courtiers. Miming powers of physical control over the principal dancers, his ultimately futile efforts spiced up the ballet’s romantic message with a well-established sense of menace.


Robert Shelley’s high-leaping Jester offered a more audience-friendly peek behind the aristocratic pretensions within some of the formal court action. Ron Trell’s Tutor also drew some early laughs.

The original choreography by Marius Petipa, supplemented by the Maine State Ballet’s Linda MacArthur Miele, matched the dancers’ grace to the rich music of Tchaikovsky, presented as a recording for this production.

The various ethnic-themed dances of Act III were a colorful delight, with Csoboth’s costuming again notable. Veronica Druchniak, who will alternate with Pelletier in the Odette/Odile role, gave a hint of her charisma in her role as a hand-clapping Russian princess. Percussion was also a theme as Neapolitan princess Brooke Sowerby and her court tapped tambourines. Kendra Murray and Janet Davis brought personality to their moments at center stage as well.

The corps numbers, including appearances by some super-cute children, felt just a bit circumscribed at times by the intimate performance space. Nevertheless, this “Swan Lake” beautifully conveys the many artistic strengths of the Maine State Ballet.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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