Ballet dancer

the ballet dancer princess of swan lake

Swan Lake is a beloved and iconic ballet that tells the story of a young princess who is enchanted by a swan and fights an inner battle within herself, which is beautifully captured through the art of movement.

Most ballet dancers start dancing at a very young age, and for Emma Hawkes who plays Odette/Odile in the English National Ballet’s production of Swan Lakeit was.

“I started dancing when I was eight,” Emma explains, “and I’ve been dancing for twenty years now.” I was shocked because Emma doesn’t look 28 and I said so. “I’ll be 29 tomorrow,” she tells me and I wish her a happy birthday.

Play the main character in Swan Lake is not easy. Not only do you play Odette but Odile too, and they are opposites.

“Odette and Odile are so different. One represents light and the other darkness and there is a huge contrast between the two. Much of the story relies on this contrast between the two and Emma loves playing these two characters.

Swan Lake is a very well-known story and it has crossed different genres and audiences, including a Barbie movie, and k-pop sensation BTS wrote a song based on the concept, which explores how a dancer has two deaths. One when they stop dancing and the other when they die.

I asked Emma if that was her case. “I can’t separate myself from dancing because I’ve been doing it for twenty years now.” The dance becomes their life.

With the number of adaptations, does it sometimes seem repetitive to put on the same show? “I think people find the story relatable.” Which makes a lot of sense. The constant battle between the light and dark parts of you has been a concept for many modern media.

Many different companies stage this much-loved ballet, so I ask for a spoiler-free description of this version and how it’s different. “I think our version has more tragedy.” The Mariinsky Ballet’s version has a happy ending where Siegfried rips off Rothbart’s wing, which kills him and allows Odette to regain her human form and live happily ever after. So this may not be the Swan Lake we are all used to.

Swan Lake has a very short run at the Palace Theater in Manchester. “I was there 4/5 years ago when we brought Nutcracker in Manchester and I think it was also at the Palace Theater so I’m delighted to be back.

Music has always been important in ballet – it sets the tone and mood of the performance. “Movies have themes now and the Swan Lake theme is so iconic,” Emma enthuses, “and it’s such beautiful music to dance to. The music makes the show.

If you could only sum up the appeal of the series in five, how would you describe it? Emma says: “Love, friendship, tragedy, music and dance.”

Emma Hawkes will be Odette/Odile Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for Swan Lake

Swan Lake is at the Palace Theater Manchester from October 5-8 and tickets can be Reserve here.