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
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE