Friday, 20 July 2018

Swan Lake - a flawless classic

Having recently seen the Vienna Festival Ballet's performance of Coppélia, I was interested to see how the same troupe would reconfigure for Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake - and I was not disappointed

Swan Lake
South Hill Park, Bracknell
Sunday, May 15

Having recently seen the Vienna Festival Ballet's performance of Coppélia, I was interested to see how the same troupe would reconfigure for Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake - and I was not disappointed. Once again, we were treated to beautiful choreography, amazing costumes and delicate dancers who were light on their feet.

Prince Siegfried has come of age and receives the gift of a crossbow from his mother and an indication that it is time to find a bride. He spies a flock of swans and meets Odette, Queen of the Swans, a group of maidens who have been transformed into swans by the wicked sorcerer Baron Rothbart, whose daughter Odile is Odette's doppelgänger. The only way to break the spell is for someone to fall in love with Odette, marry her and pledge fidelity to her forever.

Prince Siegfried then has to attend a ball with three eligible Princesses, none of whom hold a candle to his beloved Odette. With the arrival of lookalike Odile, nothing is straightforward in this haunting tale of love and trickery.

However, the overriding feeling of this production was one of sheer joy, with the delightful Jester revelling in the dances, chivvying things along, an upbeat and comical host with the most. The audience was in hoots of laughter at the sight of the simply joyous Jester's hilarious bottom-wiggling, jovial hand flips and mimicking, as he deflated the pomp and kept the show down to earth. This complemented the balletic displays without diminishing them and the ensembles remained immersed in their routines.

There were wonderfully co-ordinated scenes and blended movements, with perfect timing, elegance and sylph-like serenity. Equally, you could see the dancers had stamina of steel. The costumes and scenery were also spot on, with the soft and feathery swans, certain colours grouped for the Princesses and their ladies-in-waiting and a dramatic, raven-like Rothbart.

This was a flawless classic, brought to us by a dedicated and talented cohort, and all at South Hill Park were delighted to be there.

Review: Natalie Aldred

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