On Stage: Swan Lake opens Pa. Ballet Spring season

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Swan Lake

There are many famous ballets but “Swan Lake” is on a plateau all its own – elevated above the rest and deservedly so.

Anyone even slightly interested in ballet should take advantage if there is an opportunity to see one of the country’s top professional companies perform “Swan Lake.” And, just such an opportunity exists right here and right now.

This year, Pennsylvania Ballet is opening its spring season with “Swan Lake,” one of the most celebrated classical ballets of all time. Performances are running now through March 18 at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, http://paballet.org).

“This ballet is perfect for everyone,” said Angel Corella, Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director, during a phone interview from the theater Tuesday afternoon.

“It is wonderful for people who are very familiar with ballet and equally wonderful for people who have never seen ballet before. This ballet and ‘The Nutcracker’ are great because you don’t need to know a lot about ballet to enjoy them.”

“Swan Lake” is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875. It was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on in March 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Today, many ballet companies stage their productions choreographically and musically based on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, which was first staged in 1895 by the Imperial Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

“Our ‘Swan Lake’ is based on Petipa and Ivanov,” said Corella. “There are a few dances that are a little different.”

Pennsylvania Ballet has a long history with “Swan Lake.”

In 1964, the company performed the Black Swan Pas de Deux, with choreography by ballet master Frano Jelincic, based on the work of Lev Ivanov. In 1972, Pennsylvania Ballet performed Act III of “Swan Lake,” choreographed by The Royal Ballet’s Christopher Newton. A month later, the Ballet performed it again — this time with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

In 1980, the company performed Act II and the Black Swan Pas de Deux – both of which were choreographed by Artistic Director Benjamin Harkarvy and based on Ivanov. In 2004, Pennsylvania Ballet premiered Christopher Wheeldon’s “Swan Lake.”

And, in 2010, the Academy Award-winning film “Black Swan” was released. Featuring Pennsylvania Ballet dancers, the film focused on a ballerina preparing to perform in “Swan Lake.”

Now, it’s Corella’s time to shine with “Swan Lake.”

This will be Pennsylvania Ballet’s first time presenting the full traditional production based on the choreography of Marius Petipa. In the past, the company has only performed shortened or re-imagined versions of “Swan Lake.”

According to Corrella, “I’m excited to re-stage Marius Petipa’s ‘Swan Lake’ to give our audience the opportunity to see the traditional version of one of ballet’s most famous classics. I am thrilled to premiere this ‘Swan Lake’ at the Academy of Music in a dramatic and beautiful production that I know audiences will love.”

Corella also wanted to keep the ballet to a more manageable running time. Some productions by various companies have run longer than four hours.

“This is pretty close to the original ‘Swan Lake,’ but it goes a little faster,” said Corella. “Passages that repeated over and over I chopped up and made shorter, It’s the same story — with the romance…and the 24 swans in the second act.”

Corella is regarded as one of the finest dancers of his generation. His talent, passion, and technique have brought him worldwide acclaim and established him as one of the most recognizable names in dance. Angel was appointed artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet beginning with the 2014/2015 season.

He joined American Ballet Theatre in 1995 and quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer. He has also appeared as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London, the Kirov Ballet in Russia, and New York City Ballet. From 2008 to 2014, he served as director for his own company, the Barcelona Ballet (formerly the Corella Ballet), in his native Spain, where he is regarded as a national treasure.

The veteran dancer/choreographer/artistic director is very familiar with “Swan Lake.”

“I danced it with many different companies,” said Corella. “It would be hard for me to remember all off them. Memorable ones are American Ballet Theatre, Kirov Ballet and Royal Ballet.

“We performed ‘Swan Lake’ with my company in Spain – Barcelona Ballet — but this is the first time with Pennsylvania Ballet. It’s great to mold it to the dancers we have here now. Yuka Iseda, who is one of the Corps de Ballet dancers here, danced it with my company in Spain. With our company, every single Corps de Ballet dancers could do a principal part.”

“Swan Lake” tells the story of a young Prince Siegfried and his love for Odette. Cursed to live the life of a swan by day and a human by night, Odette’s only hope of breaking the evil spell is a declaration of true love.

Unaware of the curse, Prince Siegfried is enamored by Odette and promises to pledge his love to her. However, all hope of a happy ending is lost when the Prince is tricked into pledging his love to Von Rothbart’s daughter, Odile, disguised by magic as Odette.

Impressive dancing, beautiful sets and costumes, and the gorgeous Tchaikovsky score bring to life this heartbreaking story of the beautiful Swan Queen Odette, accompanied by a full corps de ballet of swans.

“The music is familiar, and the story is very romantic,” said Corella. “The beauty and the magic of the story make it an iconic ballet. Audiences know that it is something special.”

Video link for “Swan Lake” — https://youtu.be/tVakuEmzcrU.

“Swan Lake” is running now through March 18 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices range from $49-$199.

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Frequently, when the Slambovian Circus of Dreams plays a show in the area, it’s a show with a theme. It could be a Halloween show or “A Very Slambovian Christmas” or even the band’s traditional “New Year’s Eve Eve” show in Philadelphia.

But, that’s not happening this time.

When the Slambovian Circus of Dreams headlines a show at the New Hope Winery (6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, 215-794-2331, newhopewinery.com) on March 16, it will be a straight-up concert with no special themes — just an evening of good time, thought-provoking songs from the talented band from lower New York State.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which has been making music since 1998, features founding members Joziah Longo (singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of the band), his wife, Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, flute, ukulele, theremin, keyboards), Bob Torsello (bass) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals). They will be joined by friends from the north – the Canadian father-son team of Dio and Tristan Tadin.

“There have been a lot of changes over the last year,” said Longo, during a phone interview Tuesday from the couple’s home along the Hudson River north of New York City. “It’s been a very good year.

“Dio Tadin, a deep fan of ours from Canada, had been bugging us to come up to his studio in Ontario to do some recording. Me and Tink went up and recorded eight killer vocal tracks. Then, he came down here and did some more recording of Tink’s vocal parts. The New Years Eve Eve show was fun because we got to introduce our Philly audience to the Tadins playing onstage.

“We’re positioning ourselves to get projects going. The means of production are coming into place. The universe is moving in a way to pull the pieces together. The whole production environment is coming together. We’ve been gypsies for so long. At some point, you want to maximize your art before you’re dead.”

The Tadins moved from Canada to the Slambovians’ neighborhood in New York and set up a recording studio so that the combined teams could work on a new Slambovian Circus of Dreams album. Things were going smoothly until a few days ago.

“Three days ago, there was a power outage on Dio’s side of the river,” said Longo. “A transformer blew out and wiped out $7,000 worth of their recording equipment. Now, they have to go to Canada to get it repaired or replaced.

“I’m going to get ahold of Dio’s software and take all the files we recorded. Then, I’ll go through and get the best drum and bass takes and work with them. It’s good for me to flex those muscles again.

“When we’re in the studio, we’ll lay down a demo of me doing guitar and vocal. I got all the bass and drums down – and all the keyboard parts. And, a lot of Tink’s stuff is done. The album will have a new flavor. So, all this is positive. The new album will be unique – and very different.”

Lloyd said, “I’d describe the new album as fresh. It’s more of a ‘psych-grit’ vibe. One-third of our live show will be new songs – songs the audience has never heard before.”

One new song from the album has been heard before. When the band played in Philly in December, it played a rocking – and compelling — track called “Bees,” which is a song that deals with the constantly-decreasing bee population.

“I really appreciate this band,” said Longo. “It brings down a certain realm. I feel like I’m in the 70’s. I particularly dig the vibe of this band. In addition to me, Tink and Sharkey, we have Bob Torsello, a punk bass player, and Felipe Torres. He’s been playing drums and percussion for us for about two years now. He used to be the drummer for Davy Jones of the Monkees. And, Tristan will be a very good addition.

“I think the universe is trying to bring the team around – which is a good thing. It’s usually just me and Tink street-fighting to get the music done and out to the people.

In 2017, Longo did more than just take his band on the road.

“I’m working on new albums and new musicals,” said Longo. “I’m working on the ‘China Project.’ Back in the 90’s, we were the first American band to perform in Mainland China. We recorded a bit of Chinese music and worked with the Peking Opera Company.”

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has its roots in another New York band.

“We were in a group called The Ancestors in New York,” said Longo. “Eddie Kramer, who was the Stones’ engineer and producer, did an album with us. That brought everybody around to see us play. We were doing really well. One time, we played Carnegie Hall and CBGBs the same night.

“We were ahead of the curve and then we disappeared — on purpose. We went to the hinterlands and hid out in the folk scene. We were playing folk music that was different with things like an electric slide mandolin. It was ‘Floydian’ folk. The folkies really took to it. We found our niche.”

They found a niche and they found a new name — Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

“It was just a name I made up,” said Longo, a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High in South Philadelphia. “Eventually, we cut off the Gandalf part. It made it easier to fit the name on marquees.”

Video link for The Slambovian Circus of Dreams — https://youtu.be/C8il9rNn5wo.

The show at the New Hope Winery will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.82.

Another upcoming show at the winery will feature the John Byrne Band on March 17.

Bands frequently follow a certain pattern – an unwritten script that has the band releasing an album and then touring in support of the new disc…sometimes for as long as two years.


Lydia, an indie rock band from Gilbert, Arizona is out on tour now. When Lydia performs at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) on March 16, the band will be introducing songs from its new album “Liquor.”

But, Lydia – Leighton Antelman, Matt Keller, and Shawn Strader — is not following the script.

“Our new album ‘Liquor’ will be coming out on July 13,” said Antelman, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in North Jersey.

“It is kind of strange to be touring before the album release. We usually like to tour after it comes out. But, we got an offer to do a tour that sounded like fun and we accepted the offer.”

Lydia has released six albums so far – “This December; It’s One More and I’m Free” (2005), “Illuminate” (2008), “Assailants” (2010), “Paint It Golden” (2011), “Devil” (2013), and “Run Wild” (2015).

“We recorded ‘Liquor’ in September and October last year,” said Antelman. “We had been tinkering with it for a good part of 2017 and finally finished it in October. We had some songs built up. We all have our own studios. We write songs along the way and then track them along the way. With the new album, we recorded some of it in L.A., and some in Arizona.

“We always try to get as many songs as we can. This time, we stated with 18 when we went in the studio for the main sessions and then cut it down to 10. We all write on our own and then bring it to the band.

“Sometimes, you might have attachments to songs even if they don’t fit. You might get three-quarters of the way through a song but then, at that point, everyone has a vote. The main thing is to figure out what works best.

“We weren’t looking for a particular vibe or theme for the album. I think you just pick the10 best songs and hope they work together. I think each song should stand on its own.”

Lydia has evolved and matured over the years – and has gone through a lot of members in its line-up.

“I’m the only founding member left in the band,” said Antelman. “The line-up we have now has been together for six or seven years. It’s just the three of us and we add a drummer and a bass player when we tour.

“In our live show right now, we’re doing two songs from ‘Liquor.’ One is ‘The Good Side,’ which was just released as a single, and the other is ‘Sunlight.’ We still play songs from all our records.”

Video link for Lydia – https://youtu.be/r5U_e1sIgi8.

The show at the TLA, which also features Moose Blood and McCafferty, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.99.

Other upcoming shows at the TLA are Dumpstaphunk on March 17, Senses Fail on March 18 and Ty Dolla $ign on March 21.

Sleepy limb is something that happens when you experience paresthesia — the heavy, dull, tingling, or burning pins-and-needles feeling when your foot falls asleep.

Sleepy Limbs

Sleepy Limbs is something that happens when three rock musicians get together and form a band to explore new sounds.

Just under two years ago, three former members of the band You, Me, and Everyone We Know — Ben Roth, Kory Gable, and Joe Fuscia – got together in Lancaster and formed a new band called Sleepy Limbs.

The band released its eponymous debut EP back in September and is now out on what is billed as the “Very Cool Tour” with fellow indie band Pale Shade. On March 16, the tour will touch down in Lancaster for a show at Moira Records (112 West Orange Street, Lancaster, 717-371-2599).

“The three of us were in You, Me, and Everyone We Know for a while,” said Roth, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Lancaster.

“You, Me, and Everyone We Know was Ben Liebsch’s band for about 10 years. It had a revolving cast. We were the longest-running line-up – three years — and the last line-up

“I met Ben when my old band toured with his band and we became friends. I introduced him to the girl who is now his wife and he moved to Lancaster because she was from here.

“When that band disbanded, the three of us still had the fire and the desire to keep playing. So, we kept doing it. That was about two years ago.”

According to Roth, “Around that same time, Kory and Joe were learning/relearning some of my old songs to play a full band show and we started working on new song ideas I had floating around.

“The more we worked on new material we started to notice a chemistry between us as a three-piece and just kind of went with it and started playing shows and writing more songs, and Sleepy Limbs was born.

“Now, we have this EP – our self-titled EP. It came out six months ago on Know Hope Records, which is a label based in Philadelphia.”

All songs on the EP were written, produced and recorded by Sleepy Limbs. The EP was recorded and mixed at The Kaleidoscope in Lancaster and mastered by Mark Peteritas at Workingman’s Productions in Lancaster.

“We wrote and recorded everything at Kaleidoscope, which is our studio in a warehouse in downtown Lancaster,” said Roth. “Some were older songs and some were written in the studio.

“The writing style on these songs is different. The songs are very dense so it took us a while to put the pieces together. It’s not your usual verse-chorus-verse. Instead, it’s linear – and very dense.”

Video link for Sleepy Limbs – https://youtu.be/hGW3_dnNJFA.

The show at Moira Records, which also features Pale Shade, OKs OKs and Middle Brother, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Matt Cappy

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Matt Cappy on March 16, Beyond the Pale on March 17 and Open Mic with guest host Angelee on March 18.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Irish Mythen and John Francis on March 21.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host All Good People on March 16.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Chris Kasper, Hoots & Hellmouth and Benjamin Jaffe on March15, Infected Mushroom on March 16, Gerald Veasley’s Bass Bootcamp on March 17, and Matador! Soul Sounds on March 21.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Auld String Theory on March 16, and Kerri Powers and Tough Old Bird on March 17.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents The Musical Box on March 17 and Jeffrey Osborne on March 18.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will host Glengarry Bhoys on March 15, 3 Redneck Tenors on March 16, Louie Anderson on March 17, Oak Ridge Boys on March 18 and Skerryvore on March 21.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will host the Red Hot Chilli Pipers on March 16.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.