Dance Department debuts production of ‘Swan Lake’


Nadine Fox, Staff writer

The Dance Department at Mercyhurst University has recently debuted their opening performance of Swan Lake on Friday, Nov. 12.It was a really beautiful experience to see the creative process and watch the ballet come together. To say the least, the show is absolutely thrilling and stunning. It was truly inspiring to watch all of the dancers’ hard work and efforts pay off as they brought the classic ballet to life.

The Mercyhurst Dance Department’s production of Swan Lake could not have been done without Noelle Partusch, Chair of the Dance Department, and Jennifer McNamara and Matthew Christensen, two instructors on the dance department faculty who partnered as Artistic Directors of the production. The ballet was also in collaboration with the Mercyhurst Civic Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Moser, which brought a whole new level of liveliness to the theatre.

“I am most looking forward to performing on stage again after two years. Due to COVID-19, most of us have not been on a real stage in front of an audience since the pandemic started. Being able to perform in a safe way, with testing and vaccinations, has been very exciting,” said Gabrielle Harris, a freshman dance major who performs as a Lady in Waiting and a Waltz dancer in the production.

The Mercyhurst Dance Department is also in partnership with an organization fundraiser called Safe-Net, which works in raising awareness towards ending domestic violence. The proceeds from the donations given at the shows will go to Safe-Net and the dance department’s Jenni-Lyn Scholarship, which benefits senior dance majors by providing them funds to travel for job auditions.

Swan Lake is an iconic, classical work and the ballet still contains all of the recognizable elements of the original choreography, but with a unique, modern twist in an attempt to deconstruct some long-held assumptions about the implications of the original ballet (and the conventional expectations of classical ballet, as well).

For example, the antagonist, Sorcerer Von Rothbart, who is typically played by a male dancer, is danced by a female, Emma Devore. Additionally, the Jester, typically cast as a male dancer, will also be danced by a woman, senior dance major Maya Rich-ards. There is also a male swan in the swan corps who is played by Ramani Rosa.

“One of the highlights of Swan Lake is being able to see the gen-der fluidity of the roles, such as Von Rothbart, the Sorceress of the storyline. Normally played by a male, this lead relies on the idea that men hold the power. How-ever, in this production, this role is played by a female and is used as more of a guide to each of the characters,” Harris said. “Being in a production with this representation is important to a new age of the dance world, where gender fluidity is more represent-ed. Though putting on a full-length ballet can be stressful, the Mercyhurst Dance Department has done an amazing job.”

If you did not get the chance to make opening weekend, you can buy your tickets for the second weekend of performances taking place Nov. 19-21 at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. “If you did not come see the show just yet, I highly encourage you to do so I promise you won’t regret it,” said Devore. Be sure to come out and support the dancers in their final show of the fall semester!