Wings have long held a special significance in ballet. In “Swan Lake,” Odette’s feathery port de bras become a devastating symbol of her captivity; in “La Sylphide” the titular sylph loses her wings, and her life, in an ill-fated embrace. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Broken Wings” is one of the latest ballets to harness this freighted imagery, albeit more loosely. Created in 2016 for English National Ballet and reprised as part of ENB’s new “She Persisted” bill, the production is a vibrant tribute to the painter Frida Kahlo, capturing the existential heartbreak she suffered when a bus crash at the age of 18 decimated her health, and along with it her dream of becoming a doctor. Over the course of Ochoa’s half-hour piece, Frida finds new ways into identity, femininity, love and art, eventually recovering the wings she thought had been clipped forever.
Katja Khaniukova as Frida with English National Ballet in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's “Broken Wings.” Photograph by Laurent Liotardo