LAC, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s dark, modern version of Swan Lake, pits the Prince’s world – a decadent court, full of facades and intrigues – against the pure animal world of the forest. When it came to the costume for LAC’s swans, designer Philippe Guillotel decided to accentuate the bestial side of the bird-maidens, deconstructing tulle to look like fur or down.
The swans, Guillotel says, “have something a bit twisted, incomprehensible and unsightly. We wanted to conjure up imaginary beings through costumes that emphasise their bestiality and the lack of rules in their wild world. However, we used the same material as the tutu: a tulle, which we reworked and deconstructed to get closer to the idea of fur or down. But this time, the down is not used to create the ethereal vision of the ballerina. Instead, we accentuated the animal side.
"Following this anti-anthropomorphic approach, we also hindered the use of hands, because if one thing defines us as human beings, it is our hands and the opposition between the thumb and four fingers. The swans in LAC wear feathered gloves, which is a barrier to their contact with other humans."
The design is just part of an imaginative vision that takes the elements of Swan Lake and twists them into new and unfamiliar forms. Maillot’s company, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, will dance the work’s Australian premiere season at Arts Centre Melbourne this June.