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    On February 20, 1877, the ballet Swan Lake, with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, made its debut at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Today, Swan Lake is a standard in both classical music and ballet repertoires. In particular, the leading ballerina’s dual characters of the “White Swan” and “Black Swan” is one of the most demanding roles in dance.
    Swan Lake has been called Russia’s “national ballet.” Swans are a traditional symbol of romantic love in Russian poetry and folklore, and some critics say the story’s tragic ending appeals to the country’s dramatic national identity. Even the choreography of the corps de ballet is based on Russian and Slavic folk dances.
    Swan Lake has been adapted by choreographers all over the world. The version most often performed is by the French choreographer Marius Petipa, while Russian immigrants Rudolf Nureyev and George Balanchine contributed their own versions of the ballet. One popular version, by British choreographer Matthew Bourne, replaces the traditional female corps de ballet with male dancers. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adapt Verb

    to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

    ballet Noun

    type of formal dance with detailed, precise movements.

    choreography Noun

    art of composing dances.

    complex Adjective


    debut Verb

    to appear for the first time in public.

    folklore Noun

    traditional stories and legends associated with a people, place, or idea.

    fouette Noun movement in ballet in which the dancer stands on one foot and makes a whiplike movement with the other.
    identity Noun

    how a person defines themselves, or how others define them.

    immigrant Noun

    person who moves to a new country or region.

    nanoscale Noun

    length scale whose relevant unit of measurement is the nanometer (nm), or a billionth of a meter. Also called the nanoscopic scale.

    repertoire Noun

    list or group of artistic works (such as operas, ballets, or dramas) that an actor or company is prepared to perform.

    tradition Noun

    beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.

    tragic Adjective

    very sad or depressing.

    unison Noun

    at the same time or in harmony.