The Swan Who Didn't Die

When I was ten years old, my ballet school was invited to pass out programs for a visiting ballet company's performance of "Swan Lake." We would wear ballet tutus and then we would be able to stay for the performance free of charge. I could not contain my excitement.

Right before the performance, I became very ill. Nothing serious, just a cold, or the flu. But my mom said that I couldn't go to the ballet. I cried and cried, making my sore throat and my sniffles even worse.

Fifteen years later...

Last Friday night, "Swan Lake" was in Spokane again, for the first time since that fateful day. My mother had purchased tickets for us, in honor of my birthday (which is tomorrow). We sat in the front row in our beautifully restored art deco theater. I wore a dress from the 1940's. The evening could not have been more perfect.

Swan Lake cast

We watched the graceful movements of the Eugene Ballet Company with wonder. The coeur moved in perfect synchronicity, Odette (and also Odile) was a marvelous dancer. At one point, as the swans flapped their arms, smoke poured from backstage and off the stage onto our laps.

If you know the story of "Swan Lake," you know that Odette dies at the end, jumping off a cliff and killing herself, with the prince, her lover, following her in death. It is a sad but beautiful ending, even though it seems that evil wins. I waited for this to happen.


But it didn't.

In the end of this production, the prince fights back against the evil sorcerer who has put a spell on Odette, making her a swan. He kills the sorcerer, Odette becomes human again, and they live, it is assumed, happily ever after.

I guess sometimes, if you wait long enough, the ending changes from sad to happy. This was worth the wait.

As we left, still quiet, basking in the glow, I caught a glimpse of "Odette" who had come out to greet ballet-goers. I went up to her and thanked her. She was the swan I was waiting for all these years, the swan who did not die.

The Swan(all photos courtesy of the Eugene Ballet Company)