UNG:DOX
Swan Song

Swan Song

Chelsea McMullan / Canada / 2023

A love sonata to ballet and to 'Swan Lake' with all that it entails of hard training, low self-esteem, dreams, racism, redemption and stubborn traditions that might be in a process of change.

After 16 years as artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, former Canadian ballet star Karen Kain has decided to step down. But as a final flourish, she has decided to direct and stage a more modern version of the physically demanding ballet classic ‘Swan Lake’. But you have to be on your toes if you want to modernise in a classical and conservative world, where even ditching the plain, light-coloured gaiters in favour of the dancers’ naked, scarred legs can cause an outcry. ‘Swan Song’ follows the director, the choreographer, the dancers and everyone else involved from the moment they roll out of bed to the moment they premiere on the national stage. It is a film about individual hopes and dreams, but also a look into a rigidly conservative world of hierarchies, racism and low self-esteem. Wanting to be a ballerina is hard work. Because even if you love ballet, ballet doesn’t always love you back.