Swan Lake ruffles a few feathers

Swan Lake by Swansea Ballet Russe; Mercury Theatre, Colchester; September 29, Ballet Russe's reduced-length, three act interpretation of Swan Lake at the Mercury in Colchester wasn't without merit, but could have done with a little, actually a lot, more polishing before taking to the stage.

Swan Lake by Swansea Ballet Russe; Mercury Theatre, Colchester; September 29,

Ballet Russe's reduced-length, three act interpretation of Swan Lake at the Mercury in Colchester wasn't without merit, but could have done with a little, actually a lot, more polishing before taking to the stage. Although some aspects of the performance were outstanding, sadly the show was let down by some rather amateurish production elements.

The lighting stayed virtually the same throughout, the only exception being when the evil Von Rothbart appeared on stage at which point a red spot would appear, though only after a time delay.

There were no spot lights on the principles, which I thought most odd, meaning when they danced into a corner they were virtually in darkness.


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The scenery could have been better, with only a flimsy backdrop curtain at the opening scene that was in desperate need of a good iron; a terrible 'throne' in the coming of age ballroom scene that looked like a couple of cardboard boxes stuck together; and whoever was operating the curtain clearly had their head in the clouds, as on more than one occasion he or she let it down too early (one time raising it again for just three seconds so people could actually see the final positions of the dancers).

Another oddity was the fact not all the cast came on for the final curtain call; just the swans, Odette, Prince Seigfried and Von Rothbart. Where was the guy who played the jester? Or the lady who was the queen? Or the doddery old man from the first scene?

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But for all my criticism, each one of the above was over-ridden, for me, by the sheer elegance and grace of the leading lady, Tatiana Vdovicheva, who played the parts of both Odette (the good swan) and Odile (Von Rothbart's daughter, who tricks the poor Prince). Her long, lean limbs and perfectly pointed feet executed each and every pirouette, arabesque and developé to perfection. Her flexibility was remarkable and, in my humble opinion, she saved the entire show. Odette and Prince Siegfried's (played by Denis Muruev) first dance was captivating and, added to the heart rending Tchaikovsky score, brought a lump to the back of my throat, so moving and beautiful was it to behold.

However, the one downfall to Tatiana's stunning and professional performance was that she by far outshone the other swans, making them look like amateurs by comparison.

Over all, not the best production of Swan Lake I've ever seen but I'd watch it again just to see Vdovicheva's spell-binding dancing.

Katy Evans

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