Swan Lake, The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, Regent Theatre, Ipswich

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BILLED as the most romantic ballet of all times, a performance of Swan Lake is usually a chance to indulge your imagination, to journey to another world encased in love and hatred, where good battles evil and beauty prevails - at least in parts.

It was the third in a trio of performances taken on by The Russian State Ballet of Siberia during their three-night stay in Ipswich but sadly it was a step too far for the company.

From the first scene it was obvious to even the untrained eye that the choreography was beyond some members of the company.

As the court paraded before Prince Siegfried there was more than one battle going on. The characters vied for the attention of the eligible bachelor in true fairy tale style, but the dancers faced their own struggles.

Many fought with timing issues, rogue arms were flung in the air a second or two after the rest of the chorus and some dancers managed to miss some of the more intricate steps out completely.

All of this was accentuated by the fact the dancers were of such varying heights and sizes and it was hard to tell if this was a canon routine or designed to be performed in sync.

Prince Siegfried also failed to impress, he regularly missed his cue, leaving the orchestra and audience waiting, and stumbled throughout the performance

The dancer playing Odette was by far the strongest performer on stage. Her perfectly executed solos did exactly what they were designed to do, portraying the innocence, beauty and loneliness of this inspiring swan, captivating the audience as well as the prince.

There were stand out members of the chorus who performed an intricate, fast-paced jig during the second act that was near-on perfect, surprising considering the struggles faced with less complex routines earlier on but a rare glimpse of the true talent of this company.

Speaking of talent, the orchestra were amazing, often your eye was drawn away from the stage and down towards the pit where these musicians were holding the performance together.

The flautist stood out in particular and the conductor’s applause at the end of the performance was on a par with that of Odette’s.

Traditionally told in four acts, the ballet was compressed into two and came to a slightly abrupt end, leaving the audience wondering if this was an unusual interpretation or if we had just missed something.

2 comments

  • ..and traditionally 'cue' rather than 'que', and 'corps' rather than 'chorus' ;) I broadly agree with the review - Odette was a class apart from the rest of the very young cast, though completing Odile's fouettes looked a bit of a struggle (not surprising perhaps given the punishing touring schedule). Siegfried was lacklustre, and Rothbart was just a gangly prancing youth rather than a menacing, imposing magician. The famous cygnets' pas de quatre (maybe the jig referred to in the review?) was really very well performed and deserved its applause. The string section of the orchestra was underweight, so many well loved passages sounded rather thin, but overall the orchestra turned in a creditable performance given its constraints. The performance was also creditably (and presumably quite dynamically) adapted to the Regent's small stage - for example where typically three sets of OdetteOdile's movements are performed to traverse the stage, two were performed, but without losing synch with the music. Swan Lake needs scale - full orchestra, large stage, a host of swans - so this was always going to be a compromise. It was worth seeing and if nothing else serves to underline the brilliance of the performances available on DVD from global primas such as Zakharova and Semionova, which I'll no longer take for granted..

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    r flory

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

  • Great headline! It's vs. its, basic grammar :(

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    On Two Wheels

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

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