Picture the scene: The Black Swan seduces the Prince away from the White Swan princess for one of the most timeless love triangles ever enacted on stage. Even those who aren't fans of dance are familiar with "Swan Lake." As Yukari Saito, artistic director of The Tokyo Ballet, puts it, "Swan Lake is synonymous with ballet."

However, what most ballet fans don't realize is that there are many choreographic versions of the ballet — like those by George Balanchine and Matthew Bourne — and Saito recently took the bold step of guiding her company toward a different production. In 2016, The Tokyo Ballet premiered Vladimir Burmeister's interpretation of "Swan Lake" over its classic, 50-year performance run of Alexander Gorsky's. With a successful opening, a recent tour to Sapporo and an upcoming reprisal over the Golden Week holidays, it looks like Saito's boldness has paid off.

"The official name of The Tokyo Ballet is 'Tchaikovsky Memorial Ballet Company,' so it has always been an important ballet for the company," says Saito, referring to the fact that Tchaikovsky composed the music for "Swan Lake." It was the first classical ballet the company added to its repertoire and the first ballet Saito danced in the lead role. Yet, even as a young dancer, Saito, a 30-year veteran of the company and its principal ballerina for decades, was dissatisfied with the Gorsky version of "Swan Lake," saying, "The more I danced in it, the more frustrated I became."