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Ducks and Swans return to Chiang Mai

Ducks and Swans return to Chiang Mai

Inspired tales of courage, patience, betrayal, beauty and power

Sandy Clark

Admired for her performance as the little ugly baby duckling was the fearless little Arisara Ruksalikit.

Chiang Mai Ballet director, ML Preeyapun Sridhavat, again brought the power and beauty of ballet to Chiang Mai, where as artistic director, she brought over 300 participants to this week’s performances at the Kad theatre to delight local enthusiasts and dignitaries.

Her dancers brought to life the Ugly Duckling, a popular tale by Hans Christian Andersen from the year 1844 which had been adapted to suit the year 2006, by incorporating traditional and modern dance. The performance gave an insight to the variety of dance styles being taught at the Ballet Academy with jazz, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, modern and classical ballet dancers to impress the audience.

The characters led the enraptured audience through summer scenes when swans receive their offspring and could watch yellow sunflowers, colorful butterflies and different groups of animals such as squirrels (tap dance), beetles (jazz) and turkeys (flamenco) on stage, but most importantly, introduced the fearless baby duckling (Arisara Ruksalikit) looking for love.

Drama set in when autumn and the wild geese arrived, and the scenery changed to winter with the poor little ugly duckling left alone to die in the slowly freezing lake. Towards the end when spring returned and our little duckling found out that she was no longer a dark grey bird but a graceful and beautiful swan, the message became clear that after having suffered sorrow and trouble, life still enables people to enjoy pleasure and happiness.

This carried the audience to part two of the 2006 production of the Chiang Mai ballet’s performance, Swan Lake Act II, one of the most interesting scenes that Lev Ivanov, the Russian ballet master had choreographed in 1894 with various interesting dance patterns created on his chess board. Tchaikovsky’s lighthearted music allowed the famous ‘Four Little Swans’ corps de ballet and the romantic pas de deux between Princess Odette and Prince Siegfried perform magnificently with three dominant male dancers, Peera Phantlukthao, currently working in the UK; Angus Wilmot from the Marie-Walton-Mahon Dance Academy Australia and Prawattisad Laothong from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at Mahasarakam University.

The choreography showed the talents, strength, poise, grace, and elegance of the local production, and the minimalism of the set allowed the characters to stand out and emphasized emotions without looking forced. Costuming was similarly outstanding and would hold its own on any world stage.

Having two sold out performances at the 1500 seat Kad theatre, demonstrating the confidence and skill of the young dancers, their enjoyment in entertaining the audience and listening to the enthusiastic applause at the end showed that artistic director ML Preeyapun Sridhavat’s ideas, inspirations, ideals and efforts are paying off.

Flowers for the cast and a prize draw for air tickets, sponsored by Thai Airways International (THAI) concluded the program.

Pas de deux with Prince Siegfried (Peera Phantlukthao) and Princess Odette (Sarassanan Chantharabart), while the evil Rothbart (Angus Wilmot) returns to separate the couple.

‘Color of the wind’ and ‘Glory of Love’, sung by Maneenuch Smarasut, one of Thailand’s top singers, with her group of talented children.

‘Tap Dance’ performed by adorable little squirrels.

Sunflowers and butterflies.

The coordination was always full of enthusiasm, with some of the baby dancers as eggs and little swans.

The Welcoming dance of the Swans.

The front row (from right) Artistic Director ML Preeyapun Sridhavat, Tanawat Hiranyalekha, District Sales Manager THAI; Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat with two of the lucky draw winners, singer Maneenuch Smarasut and on the right MCs Khun Aom and Michael Vogt.