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Swan Lake – Harrogate Theatre

Composer: Piotr Ilyich Tchiakovsky

Choreograper: Marius Petipa &Lev Ivanov

Reviewer: Sue Collier

[Rating: 3]

swan-This story is perhaps the most well-known and popular of all classical ballets. Odette (The Queen of the Swans) is a beautiful Princess, who has been transformed into a swan by Von Rothbart, an evil sorcerer, who is assisted by his daughter Odile (The Black Swan). Prince Siegfried, the hero of the story falls in love with Odette.

Moscow Ballet – La Classique perform to a full audience at Harrogate Theatre. The stage is set with effective scenery and a pretty backdrop showing the royal castle at a distance from the lake.

Though the ambience of the theatre’s golden auditorium provides a very elegant and appropriate setting in which to tell this fairy story, it appears that the stage is not big enough for the scale of the performance. At times dancers bump into each other and into the backdrop, and they use small, clumsy steps which should have been danced elegantly. Also the backdrop does not seem wide enough for this stage and is pinned at the centre right, with large areas of black space showing.

Tchaikovsky’s well-known and popular score is played via the PA system rather than by an orchestra. While understanding the high cost implications of a ballet company having their own orchestra tour with them, the use of live music would add a great deal to this performance.

The costumes are well fitting and colourful. In particular, the swan costumes give the impression of a swan’s tail feathers shaking during the dance. The stand our costume is that of the Scottish dancer at the ball which is particularly elegant in design. Von Rothbart’s costume could be more effective in respect of making him appear evil. The dancer playing this part struggles with the size of the stage and his performance was not inspiring.

The popular dance of the signets brings cheers and loud applause from the audience who appear to appreciate this part of the performance.

Stand out moments occur when the Jester is on stage. The dancer in this rôle is the most technically brilliant of all the male dancers. His acting and facial communication effectively engages the audience’s attention. The dance of the swans also holds the audience spellbound, with a very visual and lyrical performance by the seemingly birdlike corps de ballet.

The interpretation and musicality of the dance is varied in quality with the Prince appearing to enter the stage too early during act one resulting in an uneasy silent wait for the music to begin. The synchronicity of some other performers is very impressive.

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