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In the folklore of many lands the swan is a creature of enchantment. No other living thing has inspired so many legends.
The ballet Swan Lake recounts one of these legends. The malevolent sorcerer bewitches the maiden, Odile, and she becomes a white swan. She is doomed to remain in this form: beautiful but inhuman, until the force of good over comes her spell. White stands for good, just as black, the colour of night, stands for evil.
When Swan Lake was composed all real swans were white. Black swans were unknown. They existed only in bad dreams, as symbols of darkness. What then, became of the myth when real black swans were discovered?