Since its premiere in 1895, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake has been an inspiration for generations of choreographers and directors. Now Sweden’s Fredrik Rydman brings Swan Lake Reloaded – where Tchaikovsky meets Street Dance – to the London Coliseum for seven performances only from 6 – 10 August 2013.
Those of my friends who’ve seen Swan Lake Reloaded in Stockholm, tell me Rydman has created an eclectic mixture of street and contemporary dance, which fuses with modern technology to transport Swan Lake into the 21st century. I’ve not yet had a chance to see this re-imaginined version of the classic ballet, but knowing as I do Rydman from his time as a member of Bounce, the dance company which staged the Michael Jackson tribute street dance ‘Beat It’ on Stockholm’s Sergel’s Torg in 2009, I know I’m in for a treat.
You may imagine, therefore, how delighted I was to be asked to interview Fredrik about the forthcoming debut of Swan Lake Reloaded in London. (He ain’t bad looking either, which obviously had nothing to do with my enthusiasm…) Here’s what the man himself said about this extraordinary piece of dance theatre.
1. What made you want to remake Swan Lake? Was it the story, the music, or something else?
Well it was the idea of how to interpret the classical ballet that made me want to do it. I got the idea in London actually, I was window shopping and saw some furs on display looking very much like the cliché-picture of a prostitute. At the same time they looked like swans and I thought that maybe the swans are prostitutes in Swan Lake… It fitted the story very well and it made the story up to date, and my one main goal has been to make the story clear for the audience, one thing I think is frustrating watching the classical version. Also in the back of my head was the music that I knew was very good, since I danced to it in Mats Eks celebrated version.
2. How did you come to re-imagine such a romantic tale as Swan Lake into the modern, and – one might say – scary modern world? Swan Lake is such a classic; changing the story so dramatically must have been risky? Can you tell me a little about this process?
I actually thought it was such a good idea, the way to do it, so I never really saw the risk. You know, when you are “obsessed” with something that you believe in you are highly motivated. Of course there were some obstacles along the way (dramatically and musically), but if you know where to go it is somehow easier to progress. The idea of having new music composed (it is 50/50 Tchaikovsky/newly written) made it also a bit more free to make the ideas to happen. One funny thing is that from the beginning I thought the old music would be most suitable for expressing love and more sensitive feelings, and new music for aggression and power. It ended very much like that, but when the couple fall in love, I used a song originally composed for a scene about heroin abstinence, and for the most powerful scenes, nothing could compare with the original score. There is something so powerful about classical music sometimes, so even if we have all modern technology today it is in the end of the day down to how you write the music.
3. Your work includes being creative director for the Swedish X-Factor and working with the Eurovision Song Contest, which was recently held in Sweden. How do you find working with both the more commercial side and the more serious – and high-brow – side of dance and choreography?
That is actually something that I try to do. I think it is interesting when those two sides meet and creates a language of its own. It is interesting because there is hopefully something you haven’t seen before. Today watching commercial or the more sophisticated, I very seldom get excited and surprised; even though I am enjoying it and it is perfectly performed and all that, it is like it is stuck in its own format. So trying to find a new context for a type of body language interests me..
4. There is something of a Scandinavian takeover going on in the UK at the moment. TV series such as Wallander and The Killing, and Stieg Larsson’s novels are very popular. The Abba craze doesn’t show any signs of fading, while new bands such as Icona Pop keep Swedish music in the charts. Did this Scandinavian takeover affect your decision to bring Swan Lake Reloaded to London?
Haha, no but it´s nice to be mentioned in such good company. No London is probably the number 1 city in Europe (or the world) for theatre and that´s why you want to go there.
5. Finally, since I am a Finn by origin, are there any plans to stage Swan Lake Reloadedin Finland?
Right now there are no plans, but I know we talked with a Finnish promotor some time ago, so hopefully in the future we will go there!
6-10 August 2013
Tickets: £10 – 65