Swan Lake: “beautifully performed, but I wished for more”

The music begins and the curtains are lifted, revealing handsome and powerful dancer, Georgy Bolsunovsky. Playing the role of the Prince, his movement conveyed strength and royalty in a single step. This immediately set an extremely high standard for the rest of the night. With the grace of The Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia, Swan Lake was beautifully performed.

After a colourful and fantastical introduction, the audience witnessed Prince Seigfried and his friends drinking and engaging in leisurely behaviour. It is his coming of age, and passing peasants are encouraged to dance for the Prince’s entertainment. Expectations of grace and angelic nature were met through the impeccable timing and synchronisation of the dancers. Anna Amelchenko, Anastasia Belonogova and Chitose Tsuchia deserved a great amount of recognition for their exquisite control and harmonisation as the swans. However, this scene seemed rather over-stretched for what is only meant to be an initial basis for the narrative.

Artistic director, Sergei Bobrov, should be praised for his practical use of a digital screen. This technology allowed for a smooth transition between settings, an event that happens often throughout Swan Lake. As a result, the stage design seemed rather bare.

Although traditional ballet is most famous for its simplicity and focus upon dance, there was a part of me that wished for more from such a spectacular tale. The introduction of more materials and objects upon stage could have added a texture to the performance that contributed to the story’s emotional depth. This wish was slightly realised at the end of the performance, when a delicate sheet portrayed the crashing of a wave and the misery of the heartbreak. The contrast in material to display presented a mesmerising effect that somewhat hypnotised the audience. I just wanted there to be more.

In act two, a number of maidens from various lands danced for the Prince. The audience witnessed a spectrum of shades, from the brightest yellows, the warmest oranges to the darkest of greys. The colours and flow to the garments were charming and breath-taking, the most enchanting being the costumes of the Spanish and Russian brides. I am certain that I can speak for everyone when I say that such use of colour in costume and makeup was spellbinding. Never have such garments illuminated an expression, technique and narrative so well. The outfits were more than a dancers’ costume, but a symbol of culture and beauty.

The performance ended to an incredible applause. People cheered and gave a standing ovation to the leading couple. What we had all witnessed was spectacular and rare – it was ballet, after all. That is the most perfect and demanding of arts.

Swan Lake was performed at the Norwich Theatre Royal on Tuesday 3rd April.


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