Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake – BBC Four, 9 March

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet will take viewers backstage as she prepares for one of classical ballet’s biggest challenges, the dual lead in Swan Lake – airing on BBC Four, Sunday 9 March 2014.

It is the ultimate role for any dancer requiring her to play the completely contrasting characters: Odette the White Swan, and Odile, the Black Swan. With unprecedented access, the disarmingly candid Rojo reveals her insights on the role’s physical and psychological challenges. She takes us into the hidden world of the corps de ballet, and through demonstration and masterclass she reveals how to read the choreography of some of Swan Lake’s most famous scenes.

Along the way, Rojo gives us a glimpse of Swan Lake’s history – its genesis through to 21st century incarnations. She looks back at some of the greats that inspired her (including the Bolshoi’s soviet star Galina Ulanova and legendary Natalia Makarova), and leads the way forward, coaching the next generation of rising stars who bring their own fresh interpretation.

Beyond the dancing, Rojo examines some of the reasons behind Swan Lake’s extraordinary success, such as Tchaikovsky’s captivating and innovative score, and how the remarkable collaboration of two great choreographers – Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov – fused the formal and naturalistic to create a phenomenon unseen before in the history of ballet.

Swan Lake is one of classical ballet’s best-loved and most popular stories – a lyrical and tragic fairytale with spellbinding choreography that continues to challenge the world’s greatest dancers. Through rehearsals, performance, interview, and specially filmed workshops, this film celebrates Swan Lake as an evolving and living work of art – the ultimate classic.

Other programmes in the BBC’s Ballet Season

Darcey’s Ballerina Heroines – BBC Two, Saturday 1 March

Dancing In The Blitz: How WW2 Made British Ballet – BBC Four, Wednesday 5 March

Fonteyn ’59: Sleeping Beauty - BBC Four, Friday 7 March

For more information and clips, visit the BBC’s Ballet Season website.