Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Great Performances
HomeBroadcast ScheduleFeedbackNewsletter Great Performances Shop
Musical TheaterOpera on FilmClassical MusicDanceRegional PerformanceCinema
Multimedia PresentationsDialogueEducational ResourcesDance
Dance in America: ''Swan Lake'' with American Ballet Theatre banner
Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried and Gillian Murphy as Princess Odile (photo by Marty Sohl -- Thirteen/WNET)
Lesson Plan
Related Web Sites
American Ballet Theatre
Angel Corella (in Spanish)
American Ballet Theatre: Dancers: Principals: Angel Corella
American Ballet Theatre: Education: Georgina Parkinson
American Ballet Theatre: Dancers: Principals: Herman Cornejo
Classical Music Archives: Tchaikovsky Performing Arts: Marius Petipa


"Swan Lake" is the most popular of all classical ballets. From its first incarnation in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to the many productions mounted around the globe today, this timeless story of a young man's love and eventual betrayal of a swan queen, set to one of Tchaikovsky's most enduring scores, continues to engage audiences and inspire new generations of dancers. Recorded in high-definition television at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this special captures all the grandeur of ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie's visually stunning new production, which was hailed by THE WALL STREET JOURNAL as "giving the 123-year-old ballet fresh splendor, depth and momentum." The elegant production stars ABT's newest sensation, Gillian Murphy, as Princess Odette, and the great Angel Corella as her suitor, Prince Siegfried.

The version of the ballet that audiences around the world are familiar with today was staged in 1895, featuring choreography by the legendary Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, to commemorate the untimely death of composer Peter Tchaikovsky two years earlier. Discover the role Tchaikovsky may have played in the development of the ballet's story and Lev Ivanov's contributions to the revitalized choreography in the essay by writer Elizabeth Kendall. Meet principal dancer Gillian Murphy, who makes her debut on the series as the lead in an ABT production, in Dialogue. Browse a synopsis of the ballet, which includes links to video excerpts from the performance, and find an in-depth timeline of Tchaikovsky's life and career in the Multimedia Presentation, Keeping Score.

Additional funders for this program include Lewis S Ranieri, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Vivian Milstein, The Annenberg Foundation, Belle and Murray Nathan, William J. Gillespie, The Judy Weston Arts Fund, Joseph A. Wilson, and Arlene Cooper.

Top banner photos: Ballerina Gillian Murphy as Princess Odette, and with co-star Angel Corella as Prince Siegfried (all photos by Marty Sohl -- Thirteen/WNET).

Gillian Murphy as the duplicitous Odile

Gillian Murphy dances the dual role of Odette and Odile in "Swan Lake" (photo by Marty Sohl -- Thirteen/WNET).

Gillian Murphy as Princess Odette

Gillian Murphy has been a dancer with ABT for nearly 10 years (photo by Marty Sohl -- Thirteen/WNET).

Great Performances Shop

This program is available on DVD.
Buy Now