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A group of female dancers make different swan-like poses. The image is blurred to depict the dancers in motion.

Swan Lake


Arching backs, spiralling arms and mesmerising patterns push the company dancers to their physical limits in this tale of purity versus seduction. David Dawson’s daring, visceral choreography is perfectly paired with the rich, romantic Tchaikovsky score, played live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. 

The strong, graceful Odette captivates young and lonely Siegfried, their duets are powered by emotional honesty. She flies across the stage towards him, flanked by shifting formations of swans – reflections of her true form. But Siegfried mistakenly betrays his love for the fierce passion of Odile, who whips the air around her into a thrilling physical and psychological frenzy. 

Last performed: Swan Lake was last performed in 2016. Swan Lake will tour Scotland from April – May 2024. For current productions, visit our What’s On page.

Scottish Ballet premiere: 2016 (World Premiere)

Choreography: David Dawson
Costume Design: Yumiko Takeshima
Set Design: John Otto
Lighting Design: Bert Dalhuysen
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 


Audio Introduction

Get ready for Swan Lake before attending the performance. Listen to our FREE audio synopsis, music and interview with Scottish Ballet dancers.



The List


Complex, risky and thrilling’

The Herald


Act 1

Part One

Siegfried is alone, portent and pensive. He longs to find his place within the real world, but is disturbed by his feelings of being the outsider. Friends begin to gather ahead of a celebration for Siegfried’s closest friend, Benno. As the party builds and Benno enjoys the attention of his companions, he tries to encourage Siegfried to put aside his insecurities and join the fun, but Siegfried remains removed and consumed by his own thoughts. As the party begins to disperse, Benno and the others decide to continue elsewhere. Siegfried remains behind alone in contemplation, before choosing to go in search of his own solitude. 

Part Two

It is night – and under the cover of darkness Siegfried sees a beautiful woman by the lake. Goddess-like and barely human, she is the Swan Queen, Odette, replenishing her powers from the waters of the lake. She morphs between forms both human and swan. Siegfried approaches and Odette is startled, yet unafraid. He is captivated by her grace, her vitality and her power. She is increasingly enchanted by his tenderness and curious about this human soul. As their feelings develop Siegfried finds himself surrounded by a multitude of swans, radiating the spirit of Odette. The night draws to an end and Odette tells Siegfried she must depart. To ensure they will meet again, she entrusts to him a very precious stone. This keepsake signifies their absolute trust and devotion and will always allow them to find each other. 

Act 2

Part Three

A formal party is being held by Benno for Siegfried. Benno has arranged for the very best guests to attend including three potential love-matches for Siegfried. As the party progresses, Siegfried politely dances with each of Benno’s guests. However, Siegfried is excited to tell Benno that he has already found his soulmate and fallen deeply in love. He shows Benno the precious stone and explains his promise to Odette. 

Suddenly, an uninvited group arrive led by a beautiful woman, Odile, who embodies a sensual charisma and fascinates everyone with her seductive intensity. Siegfried is certain she is his Odette and tells Benno that this is the woman that he has fallen in love with. Siegfried dances through the night with Odile. As the evening reaches its climax he declares his true love and foolishly offers her the precious stone. At this moment of ultimate adoration Odile seizes the stone and triumphantly abandons the party. Siegfried is left stunned and humiliated. Realising that he has betrayed the trust of Odette he runs desperately back to the lake. 

Part Four

Siegfried arrives at the lake broken and exhausted. He encounters the swans serenely moving by the water. He begins to search for Odette and eventually she appears to him. She senses his distress but is yet unaware of his betrayal. Siegfried is tormented and tells Odette of his error. As he pleads for Odette’s forgiveness she reveals that just as the trust has gone, so must she. That she can no longer be part of his life and he will lose her forever. Odette embraces him for the last time before she and the swans disappear into the darkness. 

Siegfried is left once again to face himself and his future alone.