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Fort Wayne Ballet and Fort Wayne Philharmonic Join Forces for Swan Lake

When Fort Wayne Ballet first planned and announced its 2022-23 season, the spring production of Swan Lake was to be its annual collaboration with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. That seemed at risk for almost three months as the Musicians of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic went on strike in December, but with the resolution of that strike earlier this month, the performances of Swan Lake will not only include the Philharmonic but will in fact be their first live performances since before the holidays.

“I’m thrilled they’re back,” said Karen Gibbons-Brown, artistic director of Fort Wayne Ballet. “There’s nothing like the full experience of music and dance, and I’m excited that they’re going to be there. The music is so beautiful – it’s such a beautiful score. And our dancers are so beautiful too. I’m proud of our company and our programs.”

With four performances this weekend – Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinees – Swan Lake will enthrall audiences of all ages. Their sensory-friendly performance on Sunday evening and school performances further widen the audience for this classic.

“This is our fourth year doing the sensory friendly performances, and it’s been such a lovely experience especially for the dancers,” Gibbons-Brown said. “It’s been an adjustment because we don’t turn the lights down as much so it’s unusual for the dancers to see the audience so clearly.”

One casualty of COVID has been, at least to this date, the after matinee parties which allowed young fans to visit the dancers up close and personal. Although it is COVID which has halted the long-standing practice (the after-matinee parties following Nutcracker performances were the Sugar Plum Parties), it has in fact protected dancers from even less devastating illnesses, which has been beneficial to the company. But the far more important mission of the ballet -- to provide the community with stellar dance performances – will be seen with one of the most iconic ballets. The backstory of Swan Lake is a bit complicated – with multiple versions, composers, and choreographers involved along the way – but the end result has been far more popular and enduring than the original production. And three different endings have made it a fairly adaptable story.

“We’re doing the more traditional ending, without going into what exactly that is,” Gibbons-Brown said. “Story ballets typically have endings where everybody lived happily ever after or evil has been crushed in some way. The Communist party in Russia preferred an ending which was lighter to reflect positively on its government and make a political statement.”

Another variation, one which Gibbons-Brown can reveal without spoilers, is how to portray the two swans, Odette and Odile.

“Some productions use different dancers to portray Odette and Odile, but we’re using the same dancer to play both roles. We also have three dancers performing the roles so no one has to do both roles twice in one day.”

Tickets for Swan Lake can be purchased by visiting or by calling 260-422-4226.

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