Category: matthew bourne

Adam Cooper

Red Shoes rehearsal

photo: Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne and Adam Cooper 24 years ago and now

photo: Hugo Glendinning, Johan Persson

The 4th Act of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake…

That’s all I can say.

A History of Matthew Bourne’s Swan lake

The other (misconception) is a difficult one for me to talk about; it is that some say it’s the Gay Swan Lake. It’s not a misconception, but it is a little more than that, and it’s not as clean cut as that. I think gay audiences do love the piece, because you can read it that the Prince discovers his sexuality, and he’s a royal prince so obviously you can’t be gay. Obviously, even today, so that that’s his problem, and it’s a particular problem to him being a royal. But overall I do see the piece as being a bit more universal in what’s really going on there; it’s a little bit more confusing. It’s about a young boy who has this vision of a swan who’s free and wild; what he wants to be, but he can’t be it. So, it’s like something he wants to attain to, something he wants to be. And the initial relationship between the Swan and the Prince is sort of odd in a way, ‘cause it’s two male dancers; it’s a prince and a…creature. A swan or a creature, a male creature of some kind. It’s not straight forward. I think it does turn a little bit more sexual possibly in Act III with the Stranger, who is our Black Swan character, and who–I see it as–and I don’t impose this interpretation on anyone else, but I see it as he’s a real person, who is at this ball, who the Prince finds himself attracted to because he has the characteristics of the Swan, which is he does what he likes, he’s wild, he’s free, he’s beautiful; there’s something going on there between them. And this is the Prince’s tragedy really, that he can’t be–it’s not a gay tragedy; it’s a Prince’s tragedy. You see? That makes sense, because of who he is and the society he’s in. […] But basically I do think it’s the story of someone who needs love. Love. Not sex necessarily. He wants to be held. […] He just wants someone to love him. And that’s something that I think is the most universal about the piece, that everyone responds to, and that’s why it’s been a success.


It annoys me when people look at Bourne’s Swan Lake as merely a gay story between a Prince and a male swan.  That trivializes the piece so much and proves that they’ve never taken the time to really watch it and really think about it.  Does it have a gay story line?  Of course it does.  But is that all it is and is that the only interpretation?  Not at all.  Bourne himself has labored that point home, flat out saying that it wasn’t his intention to make a “gay Swan Lake”.

Amen to this one! There is so much more happening in this story and it’s so complex, that the whole gay thing is kind of the least interesting. The richness of story is what makes this ballet so brilliant, not the fact some characters are gay. For me personally is Matthew’s SL one of those ballets that often left me almost physically exhausted after watching it, because it challenges me with every re-watch to look, to think, to search, to feel… It keeps me alert the whole time, rarely lets me rest and think oh, yes, I know this one, nothing new here. That’s why I love this Swan lake.

And I haven’t even seen it live. (But not for long. Not. For. Long.)


Can we PLEASE talk about these two!?

About the story, about their perfect chemistry in their performance. They ARE genius!!!

Guys, give it a try. You wont regret it. 🌌



Adam Cooper, Scott Amber

Matthew Bourne’s Swan lake

Matthew Bourne, Adam Cooper


Hugo Glendinning


Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (1996)