Ballet Central

Mikhail Fokine choreographed the piece in 1905 for the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova. She is said to have performed it over 4,000 times and even now it is possible to watch Pavlova dance the solo on YouTube.

Though a common misconception, the Dying Swan is not from Swan Lake, instead it is part of Camille Saint-Saƫns' suite Carnival of the Animals composed in 1886.

The story has been interpreted in many ways. Some say it follows the last moments in the life of a swan, others that it contains elements of a ballet mythology whereby the female dancer must choose between her art, out of which she has fashioned a career, and her personal life. The two combined deemed impossible.

Other choreographers have re-imagined a swan as male showcasing a different quality to the original whether in the Dying Swan or in Swan Lake. These have included Roland Petit, Matthew Bourne&Mats Ek, to name a few. In French the word for Swan (Le Cygne) is masculine.

When she danced the piece at the age of 61, Maya Plisetskaya famously presented the Swan as elderly and stubborn and dying of old age, rather than dying of a wound.

According to legend, when Anna Pavlova was lying on her deathbed, her last words were 'Get my Swan costume ready'.

Choreographer - Calvin Richardson

Australian dancer Calvin Richardson is a Soloist of The Royal Ballet. He trained at The Royal Ballet Upper School and joined the Company in 2014 and was promoted to First Artist in 2017 and Soloist in 2018. He grew up in Traralgon and started dancing aged five. With an initial interest in tap and musical theatre, he turned to ballet aged 14 when he studied at The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. After becoming a finalist of the 2012 Prix de Lausanne he was awarded a full scholarship to study at The Royal Ballet Upper School.

He has danced works by Christopher Wheeldon, Kenneth Macmillan, George Balanchine, David Dawson, Arthur Pita, Peter Wright, Marius Petipa and has created roles for Crystal Pite, Wayne McGregor and Hofesh Shechter.

In addition to Calvin's rendition of the Dying Swan, his choreographic portfolio includes Good People in the Erik Bruhn Prize (2016), Intractable in the International Ballet Gala, Melbourne, Credo in A Night of Royal Elegance, Tokyo and various works in the Royal Ballet's creative season, Draft Works.

Calvin is currently creating for the official opening of the newly refurbished Linbury Theatre at The Royal Opera House, New Work New Music.

Follow csbschool on Twitter Follow csbschool on Facebook CSB YouTube CSB Instagram

We use cookies to help make our website better.

At the moment, your preferences prevent us from using cookies. OK otherwise Find out more.

How we use cookies

Google Analytics is a marketing tool that allows us to see how our site is used, for example how many visitors we get and which pages are viewed most. This information is anonymous but requires cookies to track your actions on our website.

You can find out more about cookies at

If you'd prefer us not to use cookies, please click here, or if you don't mind us using cookies please click here.