BalletReviewSouth Coast

Swan Lake – Festival Theatre, Chichester

Composer: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Igor Shavruk
Reviewer: Bill Avenell


It is that time of year again when the Moscow City Ballet visits Chichesterand,if Swan Lake at the Festival Theatre is anything to go by, 2016 will have more positives than negatives.

One such indication is that, whereas sometimes in the past the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra has sounded a bit thin, on this evidence the much loved Tchaikovsky score is in safe hands under Igor Shavruk’s baton. The overture does indeed set the tone and Chichester’s impressive stage provides an excellent venue for the Moscow City Ballet principals to ‘strut their stuff’ in front of a good and encouragingly mixed age audience.

The plot ofSwan Lakeis somewhat nebulous, as it is in many ballets, but tells the tragic tale of a prince looking for a bride who finds and falls in love with an enchanting swan princess, herself under the spell of an evil sorcerer. The prince is then himself bewitched into offering his hand to the sorcerer’s daughter, disguised as his love, and thus condemns the real princess to die and leads to the denouement in which sorcerer and prince fight to the death.

Moscow City Ballet aficionados will be familiar with the principals filling those roles last night. Liliya Orekhova as Odette/Odile is a superb performer and is on good form throughout. Her performance as the Black Swan is particularly impressive (fouettes and all) and she has a wonderful sinuosity which gives a true birdlike form to her dancing. Another regular, Talgat Kozhabaev, is an elegant and at times powerful prince and his lightness of foot in the leaps and bounds are a joy to watch. But in this production, Denis Tyurin dancing the sorcerer Von Rothbart also stands out. His movement around the stage creates a wonderful impression of shadowy menace and power which is well worth the entrance money on its own.

Outside the principals and soloists, there is a bit of an imbalance. The female corps de ballet are a delight and the movement of the swans and cygnets is beautifully portrayed. Not quite so with the boys who are often rather gawky and awkward. This is particularly portrayed in the bride variations in which the dancing of Yulia Zhuraleva as the Neapolitan Bride stands out from the others partly because she is well supported by her female entourage while the male supporters of the other brides sit around looking like adolescent youths at a disco. There were also for Chichester a few uncharacteristic backstage glitches that rather interrupted the flow, but these are of minor importance when set against the overall performance.

Moscow City Ballet is decidedly traditional in their interpretation but this year’s tour still manages to instil freshness into the old masterpiece. Some of the patterns created by those swans particularly in act four are a real delight and the final scene provides a suitably climactic conclusion to a thoroughly enjoyable production.

Runs until 10January | Image: Contributed


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