Pittsburgh Ballet House students will perform the classic ballet “Swan Lake” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Seneca Valley Intermediate School.
CRANBERRY TWP — Dance devotees and those looking to experience ballet for the first time will enjoy the production of “Swan Lake” this weekend at the Seneca Valley Intermediate School auditorium. That’s the word from Kwang-Suk Choi, owner and principal instructor at the Pittsburgh Ballet House in Cranberry Township and an adjunct faculty member at Point Park University. The classic ballet will be performed by Pittsburgh Ballet House students at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be available at the door. Kwang said the principal role of Odette, as well as the villainous Odile, will be performed by his daughter, Younji Grace Choi. The young dancer, 17, placed third in the Youth America Grand Prix in January and was one of 16 girls in her age group to be chosen to participate in the International Ballet Competition this month in Jackson, Miss. He said playing the dual “Swan Lake” roles of the soft, delicate Odette and the wicked Odile was a challenge for Younji Grace. “She is a very hard worker, and she is handling it well,” Kwang said. The production will use 128 dancers from Kwang’s dance studio, and two male dancers from Point Park University. Because the ballet is being performed by impressionable young dancers, Kwang decided to soften the disturbing ending of the “Swan Lake” story. Instead of Odette dying accidentally at the hands of the prince, who drowns himself as a result of his error, Kwang rearranged the story so that the prince and Odette joyfully dance off into the sunset together. “I wanted to make a happy ending,” Kwang said. Younji Grace called her roles in “Swan Lake” challenging. “But it’s my last year at my home studio, so it was a good challenge,” she said. “It has prepared me for what’s ahead.” Younji Grace said while she enjoyed both roles, the fragile Odette represented the first sad character she has played as a ballet dancer. “It was interesting to do something new, and use the different facial expressions and arm movements,” she said. The future San Francisco Ballet School student said she also plays dual roles as a principal dancer working under her father. “For me it’s way more comfortable because he is a family member and I feel at home when I’m dancing,” she said, “but he can be a lot more critical (than with other students.)” Regarding those students, Younji Grace expects no one will be disappointed with this weekend’s production of “Swan Lake.” “It’s been challenging because it’s a very hard production, but I feel everyone is handling it really well,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing that we’re able to do a full-length ballet, especially ‘Swan Lake.’” Kwang’s studio has performed “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia” and “The Nutcracker” in the last several years. “Swan Lake,” Kwang said, is a more ambitious ballet. He said all the dancers have been engaging in several hours of rehearsal for “Swan Lake” in addition to their regular ballet classes. Tickets are $11, $13 and $15 at the door, depending on seating.