When the Sacramento Ballet stages “Swan Lake” at the Community Center Theater on March 26–29, it will be the fourth time the company has presented the stunning production, but Co-Artistic Directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda have a storied history with the iconic ballet that dates back to the early 1970s.
Cunningham performed as an extra in the Royal Ballet of London’s production of “Swan Lake” when he was only 23 and shared the stage with none other than legendary danseur Rudolf Nureyev. Meanwhile, his future wife Binda joined the Boston Ballet—where the two would eventually meet and marry—at age 18 and danced her first “Swan Lake” as a member of the corps de ballet, later dancing soloist and principal roles.
During the Boston Ballet’s historic 1980 world tour, the company danced more than 50 performances in 79 days throughout China, Hong Kong, Israel and Italy, as well as act two of “Swan Lake” in the south of France. When Violette Verdy, the renowned ballerina and former artistic director of the Paris Opera, became the new co-artistic director of the Boston Ballet in 1981, she decided to create a brand new production of “Swan Lake” and chose Binda as her choreography assistant. The production was an enormous success and took Cunningham and Binda on an international tour once again, this time with Nureyev appearing as a guest artist.
The following year, the newly married couple was expecting their first child as the Boston Ballet embarked on another international tour with Nureyev—this time with Binda serving as ballet mistress, where it was up to her to adapt the Boston Ballet’s production of “Swan Lake” from an 18-swan production into a 36-swan production at Nureyev’s behest. At the end of their fourth international tour, Binda and Cunningham continued a close working relationship with Nureyev, alternating performances of “Swan Lake” and Nureyev’s “Don Quixote” with Binda acting as ballet mistress for both and Cunningham as a character artist.
By 1991, Binda and Cunningham were ensconced as co-artistic directors at the Sacramento Ballet and decided that it was time to create their own version of “Swan Lake,” which they will reprise this month with the sets from their international Nureyev tour and plenty of the spirit of the original 1895 Russian choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. With Tchaikovsky’s lush score, Cunningham’s choreography and Binda’s expert coaching, this production is both a blast from the past and a brand new treat for the senses.
For tickets and more information, call (916) 808-5181 or visit sacballet.org. The Community Center Theater is located at 1301 L St.
Who: Sacramento Ballet
What: “Swan Lake”
When: March 26–29
Where: Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento