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Barbie warms up for 'Swan Lake'

May 25, 2003|Lewis Segal

The world's favorite plastic ballerina dons feathers for her next full-length dance film, "Barbie of Swan Lake." Her previous classical assignment, "Barbie in the Nutcracker," sold more than 5 million copies on DVD and video in 2001 and was televised in Germany, France, Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia.

As with every other "Swan Lake," the Barbie version uses music by Tchaikovsky to tell the story of Odette, transformed into a swan by the wicked magician Rothbart. However, this computer-animated project features choreography by Peter Martins, artistic director of New York City Ballet. "I am delighted and, perhaps more important, my daughter is thrilled that we are putting Barbie back in pointe shoes," Martins says in a statement. His live "Swan Lake" reentered the City Ballet repertory earlier this month and his Barbie adaptation is due for release in September from Universal Worldwide Home Entertainment.

As she did in the "Nutcracker" film, City Ballet principal Maria Kowroski dances the steps that motion-capture technology transforms into Barbie's classical virtuosity as Odette. However, at age 44, Barbie is apparently unwilling or unable to assume the challenge of playing both Odette and Odile -- perhaps because of her late start in classical dance. So Maggie Wheeler ("Friends") is lending her voice to the character of Odile. In addition, Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") is bringing a dimension of humor to the portrayal of the evil Rothbart. Barbie's eternal partner, Ken, is cast as Prince Daniel.

-- Lewis Segal

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