Swan Lake Ballet Synopsis: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

You might not think of ballet as exciting, but this ballet has an evil sorcerer, a fight, and an enchanted princess! Read on to find out the story of the popular ballet 'Swan Lake.'

Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake

When Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was first performed in Russia about 140 years ago, audiences didn't like it. Some thought that the choreography was badly done. Choreography, pronounced ''kohr-ee-AH-gruh-fee,'' is the movements made by the dancers. It was changed and now Swan Lake is one of the most popular ballets of all time.

The story of Swan Lake is based on a Russian folk tale. A folk tale is a story that's been passed down from person to person, over many years.

The Swan Lake ballet is usually performed in three or four acts, or parts.

Act One

A party is held at the palace to celebrate Prince Siegfried's 21st birthday. His mother gives him a crossbow, a powerful type of bow and arrow, as a gift. She also tells him that he needs to marry soon and plans to arrange his marriage. The Prince doesn't like this idea, so he runs off into the woods.

Act Two

Prince Siegfried finds a lake. He doesn't realize it yet, but the lake is enchanted, or under a magic spell. He sees beautiful swans swimming on the lake. The most beautiful swan is wearing a crown!

Swans, Odette, and Prince Siegfried

That night, the swan with the crown turns into a beautiful woman. The prince learns that her name is Odette, the Swan Queen, and he falls in love with her. She tells him that an evil sorcerer, or wizard, has put her under a spell.

All of the swans on the lake are girls that the sorcerer, Von Rothbart, has enchanted. Odette tells Prince Siegfried that the swans can only become human again if the spell is broken. A man must pledge his love to Odette or she'll stay a swan forever. The evil sorcerer appears and learns that Prince Siegfried is in love with Odette. Siegfried thinks of shooting him with his crossbow, but Odette stops him. If the sorcerer dies while she's still enchanted, she'll die, too.

Act Three

Prince Siegfried's mother brings many beautiful girls to the palace and commands him to pick a bride, but Siegfried is in love with Odette. Von Rothbart brings a girl who looks just like Odette to dance with the prince. Siegfried doesn't know that this girl, named Odile, is Von Rothbart's daughter. He's put her under a spell so that she looks like Odette.

Von Rothbart and Odette

Siegfried asks Odile to marry him, not knowing the real Odette is watching. The prince then sees the real Odette running away and knows he's made a mistake. The sorcerer then shows the prince the true identity of Odile.

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