Reimagining Swan Lake: A Circus Spectacular in Duck Pond

Zachery Stephens photography by Billie Wilson-Coffey

Duck Pond

Interview with Zachery Stephens

Interview by Chris Duncan

Chris Duncan recently had the opportunity to interview Zachery Stephens, who plays The Prince in Circa’s innovative production “Duck Pond.” This reimagining of Swan Lake, intertwined with the tale of the Ugly Duckling, brings a fresh perspective to the classic ballet. Zachery shares his insights into the inspiration and creation process behind this groundbreaking show.

The idea of merging Swan Lake with a circus performance was driven by a desire to respect the original ballet while infusing it with the dynamic energy of acrobatics. “We wanted to create a version that didn’t mock Swan Lake but took it seriously,” Zachery explains. “Even the comedic elements are performed with earnestness.” The goal was to see how acrobatics could enhance the narrative without making a mockery of the beloved ballet.

Blending elements of ballet, circus, and theatre presented unique challenges and opportunities. According to Zachery, “Circus, with its inherent theatricality and dance elements, provided a perfect platform for this fusion.” The production utilized spectacular costumes and diversified the acrobatic performances, pushing ground-based performers into aerial acts. This creative freedom allowed for a show full of unexpected opportunities.

One of the standout aspects of “Duck Pond” is the sequinned flipper-wearing duck army and the burlesque black swan. These elements play a crucial role in balancing the show’s seriousness with its storyline of transformation. “The narrative follows the Ugly Duckling’s journey to acceptance and self-discovery,” says Zachery, “and these playful sequences of sequins and flippers add a light-hearted touch to the otherwise profound tale.”

Creating and rehearsing the aerial and acrobatic sequences was a collaborative effort. Zachery, primarily a ground-based performer, experienced the thrill of aerial work for the first time. “Senior aerialists and a ballet dramaturg were brought in to teach and choreograph, merging ballet elements with acrobatics,” he shares. “This teamwork ensured that we could master the new skills and integrate them seamlessly into the show.”

“Duck Pond” aims to make the story of Swan Lake accessible to a broader audience. Traditional Swan Lake can be challenging for some, but this production offers something for everyone. “Humorous moments, stunning sets, and an engaging narrative combine to create a unique experience,” Zachery notes. “The mix of flippers, sequins, and remarkable stage design ensures that audiences will find something to enjoy.”

The physical demands of the show are balanced with the need to convey emotional depth and character development. This is one of the first Circa productions to feature distinct characters, enhancing the acrobatics with emotional storytelling. “We had to convey intimacy and emotion through our acrobatic skills,” Zachery explains, “a challenging but enriching process.”

Humour plays a vital role in “Duck Pond,” breaking up the serious moments and adding unexpected, funny elements that enhance the show’s overall appeal. The collaborative process among directors, choreographers, and performers was essential in bringing this vision to life. “Senior acrobats, ballet dramaturgs, and theatre experts worked together to integrate new elements and refine the performance,” Zachery says.

The contemporary energy and style of “Duck Pond” appeal to modern audiences while staying true to the essence of Swan Lake. Contemporary circus continually evolves, borrowing from ballet, theatre, and physical theatre. “This production broadens the scope of Swan Lake,” Zachery explains, “allowing audiences to experience its core elements in a fresh, contemporary context.”

Zachery is particularly excited for audiences to experience the numerous costume changes. “These transformations are challenging yet fun to perform,” he shares, “and I eagerly anticipate the audience’s reactions.” “Duck Pond” promises a unique, engaging, and visually stunning experience that redefines the boundaries of contemporary circus and classic ballet.

Zachery Stephens bio

Zachery began his circus career following in the footsteps of his siblings and aspires to one day perform alongside them. With a background in competitive gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting, Zachery is no stranger to lifting weight above himself and has a terrible habit of asking anyone regardless of size to stand on him. Undertaking his circus studies at the National Institute of Circus Arts, he has trained for 4years as a hand-balancer and hand-to-hand base. However, his true love and the place where Zachery thrives most is in an ensemble, where he can explore group acrobatics in collaboration with creative movement. Zachery’s ambition as an artist is to become as versatile as possible, to never become comfortable and most importantly, to show the world why circus is the most powerful and beautiful expression of what it means to be human.

You can read our article about Duck Pond and ticketing information here

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • WordPress
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>