Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Peter Wright
Reviewer: Rebecca Cohen
It is the most universally recognised ballet of all time – being performed and adapted by an array of dance companies all over the world. And now Swan Lake has been brought to The Lowry’s stage by Birmingham Royal Ballet in its most traditional and tantalising form.
The captivating story about a beautiful princess called Odette (Céline Gittens) being transformed into a swan by the evil sorcerer’s curse is as poignant now as it was more than 125 years ago, and thankfully the BRB more than do it justice.
The last time this reviewer saw the company was when they performed Sleeping Beauty back in 2010. One was unconvinced by their art of storytelling, their correlation between music and movement, and overuse of gestures, but this time round my fears were entirely quashed. By the end of Act One (of four) it was clear that this time round, something was different – that the production has a finished feel, and that this is so much more than just a showcase of talent.
The solo performances throughout are nothing short of mesmerising and, while formation overall could at times do to be slicker, the unison work (especially in the Swan Maidens’ scene) is a real joy to watch. Dancers move effortlessly to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, their legwork and lifts and pointe work and pirouettes proving how these artists really are at the top of their game. The final act, in particular, contains some stunning choreography, the dramatic movements matching the crescendo of the score and leaving audience members on the edge of their seats.
The set and stage effects too are spectacular, particularly the ‘ballroom of the castle’ and the beginning of the final lakeside scene, which is truly magical to watch. The moment Princess Odette appears at the window in Act Three – Von Rothbart (Jonathan Payn) unintentionally pledging his love to another – is another stand-out moment.
This is a piece of theatre that takes you through every emotion, leaving you spellbound with the fast-paced numbers, laughing at the comedic portrayal of the three Princesses at the ballroom, and feeling drained by the lovers’ plight by the end. With perfected pas-de-deux, a whole heap of energy and a truly dedicated cast this is far from being an ugly duckling of a production, and should be high on any list of ballet fans in need of an enjoyable night of sheer escapism.
Runs until 26 September 2015 | Image: Contributed