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Learning outcomes In this unit you and your students will: • Learn about the elements that come together to create a theatrical ballet experience. • Identify the processes involved in making a theatre production happen. • Learn about the elements of the Swan Lake story and the development of the RNZB’s version.

Curriculum Links in this unit

Workshop Achievement Objectives

Values Students will be encouraged to value: • Innovation, inquiry and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively and reflectively. • Diversity, as found in our different cultures and heritages. • Community and participation for the common good.

The Arts Level 3 and 4: Dance • Developing Practical Knowledge – Students will apply the dance elements from the RNZB’s Swan Lake to extend personal movement skills and vocabularies and to explore the vocabularies of others. • Developing Ideas – Students will combine and contrast the dance elements to express images, ideas and feelings from Swan Lake using A variety of choreographic processes. • Communicating and Interpreting – Students will describe how the purpose of dance is expressed through movement. • Understanding the Arts in Context – Students will explore and describe how dance is used for different purposed in a variety of contexts.

Key Competencies • Using language, symbols and text – Students will recognise how choices of language and symbols in live theatre affect people’s understanding and the ways in which they respond. • Relating to others – Students will develop the ability to listen actively and share ideas regarding theatrical ballet performances. • Participating and contributing – Students will be actively involved in their cultural community, understanding the importance of creative environments. • Thinking – Students will reflect on their own thinking and learning after the personal experience of attending a live theatre show.




Peasant girls and youths have been invited to celebrate Prince Siegfried’s coming of age, and the atmosphere is one of much festivity and anticipation. Siegfried arrives, accompanied by his old tutor Wolfgang, already tipsy, and the Court Jester. The arrival of the Princess Mother interrupts festivities. She presents Siegfried with an ornate crossbow as a birthday present and reminds him he must choose a bride at his birthday ball the following night. When the festivities draw to a close, Siegfried goes in search of swans with his crossbow to distract him from his brooding. Alone, he walks along the lakeside.

The Princess Mother has arranged a ball in honour of her son, Siegfried. It is her hope that tonight he will select his future wife and presents three princesses as prospective brides. He dances briefly with each, but is distracted by the arrival of Rothbart in the guise of a nobleman. He is accompanied by a beautiful girl dressed in black who bears a resemblance to his beloved Odette. Rothbart presents her as Princess Odile, and Siegfried invites her to dance with him.

Act II THE LAKESIDE – THE SAME NIGHT Siegfried hears the sound of swans’ wings. Swans glides to the lakeside and are transformed to human form by the evil sorcerer Rothbart. From his hiding place, Siegfried observes Odette expressing her desperation at being condemned for eternity to remain in this terrible enchantment. Siegfried prevents her throwing herself into the water, assuring her that he means no harm. Rothbart returns, summoning the swan maidens to the glade. They begin a melancholy dance, which becomes more hopeful as they see Odette and Siegfried’s increasing enchantment with each other. As dawn approaches, the swan maidens prepare to return to the lake. Siegfried tells Odette that he loves her, and entreats her to stay. Odette says she cannot: between midnight and dawn, she must always be the Swan Queen unless a young man swears eternal love to her, and her alone. Siegfried vows everlasting faithfulness, but Rothbart is already beckoning Odette to come to him. She promises to return the following night.

As the evening goes on, Siegfried becomes convinced that this mysterious woman must be Odette. He declares his love for her. The Princess Mother, hopeful that her son will marry a woman of rank, as Odile appears to be, joins their hands and presents them to the gathered assembly. Rothbart persuades Siegfried to swear an oath of fidelity to Odile. The room is cast in darkness. Rothbart stands before Siegfried in a final triumph of selfrevelation. Odile is but a creation of Rothbart’s made in Odette’s likeness to deceive Siegfried. Overwhelmed with remorse and despair, Siegfried runs from the Great Hall.

Act IV THE LAKESIDE Odette waits for Siegfried by the lakeshore, reassuring the swan maidens that all will be well. Distraught, Siegfried runs in, but the swan maidens sense the reason for his distress and react with hostility, trying to prevent him from reaching Odette. Finally she calls him, and he begs her to forgive his unwitting betrayal. Rothbart enters. He reminds Siegfried he can no longer hope to save Odette, then withdraws, mocking them. Odette and Siegfried’s impassioned pas de deux tells of their despair. Overcome with sadness, Odette declares that the only way to break the spell is for her to die before returning to her swan form. Unable to contemplate life without Odette, Siegfried declares he will die with her. They embrace for the last time, and together the lovers throw themselves into the lake.


Tchaikovsky • The music of Swan Lake was composed by Peter Tchaikovsky (pronounced chai-cough-ski). • Tchaikovsky was born in Russia in 1840. He began piano lessons at age five and could read music just as well as his teacher by the time he was 8 years old. • Tchaikovsky’s mother died in 1854 when he was 14 years old. This made him very sad and he began to compose music to express his sorrow. • He studied law but finally decided that music was his passion and went to music school (the school is now named after him!). • In 1869, aged 29, he composed his first great masterpiece to the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. • Tchaikovsky died of cholera in 1893, aged 53. • Tchaikovsky composed some of the most well known classical works, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, just to name a few.

The Nutcracker Two rows of sw

Photo by Maart


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Animal mash Poor Odette was a young girl who happened to catch the eye of evil Rothbart. Because she would not return his love he turned her into a half human, half swan. If you had to be mashed up with an animal what would you choose? Draw your mixed animal/human here.


What would you be called?

What special abilities would you have?

Write a story about your transformation on the next page. Think about why you are changing, for example is it a wicked spell? Or are you a super hero?



A tale of two Rothbarts The evil Rothbart appears in disguise at the Prince’s party. He is there to trick Prince Siegfried into declaring his love to Odile. The costume designer has to design two costumes that look both similar and different – a pretty tough job!

Now it’s your turn to design Rothbart’s costumes Remember, he is half bird half human. His party outfit needs to be more human like, so the party goers think he is a normal person, but the audience needs to be able to recognise him as the evil Rothbart.

Here is how Kristian Fredrikson did it:


Good Vs. Evil Can you think of other good and evil characters in famous stories? Think of fairy tales, ballets, fables, etc.



Odette Cinderella

Odile Step Mother

How do we know almost instantly which character is Good and which is Evil? How are they depicted?

What kinds of gestures do they make?




How to make a paper swan Step by step instructions Begin with a square piece of paper. Make sure it’s not too thick as then it will be tricky to fold tidily.

Fold the corners into the middle to make a kite shape.

Fold the square in half on an angle to make a triangle.

Fold up the corners again to make a more narrow kite.

Open it back out into a square.


Fold the narrow point towards the wider point at the other end.

Fold in half the other direction.

Gently pull the neck section up, it should stand up.

Fold the tip to make a head

Use an orange colour pencil to draw a beak.

Gently ease out the swans body so it stands up by itself.

Or watch this You Tube video:


Blue square for paper swan


Odette Vs. Odile Rothbart brings his daughter Odile to the party to trick Prince Sigfried. Odile is made to look just like Odette, the white swan, except she is a black swan, and altogether evil! Rothbart and Odile want to trick the prince into declaring his love for Odile which means Odette will stay under his power and remain a swan forever. Oh what a tangled web!

What are the similarities? (Think about not only costumes but how Gillian is standing, and movements.)

This is the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Odette and Odile played by Gillian Murphy.

What are the differences?

Which would you prefer to perform? Why?

Which swan do you think would be harder to portray? Why?


There’s a time and place Time


In which period do you think Swan Lake is set? What makes you think this?

Where is Swan Lake the story set? Is it a town? City? New Zealand?

Do you think the same story could be set in the present day? Why?

How do you know?

Do you think the characters of Swan Lake would act the same? Why?

How would the story change if it were set in your neighbourhood?

What changes would need to be made if it were set in 2013?


Now it’s your turn! Choose two characters from Swan Lake that you would like to design a costume for. Choose from: • Odette • Odile • Prince’s Mother • Prince Siegfried • Wolfgang the tutor • The Prince’s friend • A party member

What outfit would you design for these characters? Remember they need to dance freely and show off their performance!


Where are we? Draw a map of the Prince’s kingdom. Don’t forget to include: • The castle • Forest • Swan Lake • Rothbart’s lair • Village • A compass rose (North, South, West and East) • Title (what is his Kingdom called?) • Scale – For example, trees should be smaller than the castle!

What else will you add to your map to make it unique and interesting? This is a kingdom that has some magical characteristics, such as girls turning into swans so what else may be happening?


Interview with a Character Imagine that you are a television talk show host, sent to the Prince’s kingdom to interview one of the main characters from Swan Lake. Choose a character you would like to interview. Below are some prepared questions but you may wish to make up some of your own. • Odette, how does it feel to be half bird, half human? • Prince Siegfried, why did you declare your love to Odile without spending any time with her? • Rothbart, how did you make Odile look just like Odette? • Swans, describe for our viewers at home what it is like to live on a lake. • Queen, do you feel bad about pushing your son into marriage? How would you act differently?


Magic number 32! Odile will perform a very famous move in her solo dance at the prince’s party. She will spin around and around on the tips of her toes 32 times! This very impressive move is called fouetté (pronounced fweh-tay) it means to whip. Check it out here: All female ballerinas strive to do 32 fouetté in front of an audience. Many audience members anticipate it and they begin to clap and count the turns to encourage the dancer to keep going! Have you ever tried to spin around very quickly 32 times? Try it! Did you get dizzy? Did you have to lie down or lose your balance as you recovered? The magic trick to stop yourself getting dizzy is to Spot. All ballet dancers must learn to spot from a very young age.

• To spot, pick something on the wall in front of you; it could be a light switch, a mark on the wall, a picture, a handle on a cupboard, anything directly in the centre. • Turn your body while still looking at your spot. Try to keep your head still. • When you cannot turn your body anymore whip your head around so you are looking at the spot again. • Continue moving your body back to the front. • Continue doing this but try to go faster and faster! When a dancer is on stage it is difficult to see anything because of all the stage lights let alone find something to spot. So the production crew set up a red light, usually hanging at the bottom of the Circle balcony. The dancer will use this red light to spot when doing all of their turns to the front, and when they are holding a balance. Try to see it when you next come to an RNZB performance.


The Language of Ballet Many centuries ago the first steps of ballet were devised in France. From then on all ballet phrases and steps are in French. You may think you don’t know any of these, but see if you can match up these below... you may surprise yourself!



En pointe







on the point on the toe












My Birding Journal The skill of bird watching is called Birding. If you are birding you are looking for all sorts of birds in your neighbourhood. It’s a bit different from Twitching which is when you are trying to find a specific rare bird.



Use the below grid to help you keep a birding journal. Are the birds you spot the same as your class mates?


Tui Sp a

r r ow

Place spotted: Name: Describe:


The noise it made (if any):

Any other interesting observations:


Swan Facts •

• Photo from

• A male swan is called a Cob • A female swan is called a Pen • A young swan is called a Cygnet, which comes from the Latin word for swan – Cygnus • A group of swans is commonly called a flock. In my research however, I have also come up with a herd, a bevy, a lamentation, a wedge and a fleet (swans in captivity) • A swan has approximately 25000 feathers • An adult swan weighs approximately 15 kg • Their wing span is approximately 3 metres • Swans are mostly herbivores but do eat the occasional insect or tadpole • A mating pair of swan mate for life...usually • Swans have a habit of resting either of their legs on their backs. Sort of like how humans cross their legs. It can sometimes startle onlookers as it looks like the leg has been broken! • Swans are very intelligent birds and remember who has been kind to them...or not • Swan defend their territories fiercely • Swans fight off intruders by rushing at them and hitting them with their wings. They celebrate their victory by calling loudly and raising their wings • A blow from a cob’s wing could break a man’s arm, although this is highly unlikely • Swans actually have very few enemies. Almost all threats come from humans, such as over head power lines, pollution and loss of natural habitat • There are seven species of swan • Swans, although graceful are actually very noisy. Some types of swans are named after their sounds – Trumpeter Swan, Whistling Swan and Whooper Swan. Even the Mute Swan is not

quiet, it hisses, barks and snorts too The swan has been a symbol of gracefulness since ancient times. In Greek mythology Zeus turned into a swan to catch the attention of beautiful Leda Swan’s long, long necks allow them to reach the bottom of the lake to feed on the roots and the stems of plants Swans fly in a V shaped formation. When they fly in this arrangement it is called a wedge Traditionally all swans in the United Kingdom belong to the Queen. This goes back to the medieval times when swan meat was considered an important food source for banquets and feasts. Today swans on the river Thames are still counted and marked but rarely eaten. You can find out more about the tradition of “Swan Upping” and some historical photos here:

The Black Swan • The black swan is a native of Australia • It was first introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s about the same time as it reached here naturally • It behaves very similarly to its northern cousin the mute swan • The black swan usually has one partner for life and they share the care of their eggs • The black swan is a herbivore, eating plants and weeds growing underwater by using its long neck

Photo from


Kristian Fredrikson Costume Designer Kristian Fredrikson was a New Zealand born designer who lived most of his life in Australia. He was a stage and costume designer who designed a large number of productions internationally. He designed for many performing art companies in both Australia and New Zealand. For the Royal New Zealand Ballet he designed the costumes for Swan Lake, Peter Pan and A Christmas Carol.

Kristian Fredrikson died in late 2005 – the year he achieved his long-held ambition to design all three great Tchaikovsky ballets in one year – 300 costumes and sets for the Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Nutcracker and Houston Ballet’s Swan Lake. Below are some more designs from RNZB’s Swan Lake by Kristian Fredrikson. They are just too beautiful not to include!


Structural elements of Swan Lake Time In which period is Swan Lake set? How does the historical detail create a special atmosphere?

Characters Which character do you like best? Why? Which do you dislike the most? Why? Do the characters change through the story? How?

Place In which location is Swan Lake set? What impact does the setting have on the characters and their actions?

Conclusion The Story-line

Why do you think Swan Lake ends as it does? How did you feel while you were watching it?

What is the story about? What length of time does it cover? Is the beginning exciting or slow? What is the climax of Swan Lake? How is it resolved?


Swan Lake Audience Evaluation Once you have viewed the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake use the following to help you evaluate the performance.

My favourite character was

The bit I enjoyed most was because


I would have improved the

The character I least liked was

scene by



Swan Lake Dance Evaluation Once you have viewed Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Swan Lake use the following to help you evaluate the performance. Pathways What pathways were used? Did the pathways work with or against each other?

Levels Using different levels in a dance piece is very important to create variety. What levels were used in Swan Lake? Did a character/dance have a “signature level”? Why would the choreographer do this?


Dynamics How did the dancers portray their character? Which character did you like the best? Why? How would you portray a character differently?

What parts of their bodies did they use? How did they use symmetry?

Shapes What shapes did the dancers make with: • their bodies? • each other?

Groups or formations Group formations are used a great deal in Swan Lake. Why? What do the formations tell the audience about the characters?


Swan Lake Education Resource  
Swan Lake Education Resource