Sunday 13 January 2019

Swan Lake - Review

Coliseum, London


Choreographed by Derek Deane after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov

Precious Adams in Swan Lake

The English National Ballet’s 2019 Swan Lake presents one of the most famous, classic works in a production that is at once beautiful and thrilling. Derek Deane choreographs after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov - with additional movements created by Sir Frederick Ashton - and the hallmarks of this collection of trans-European geniuses is evident throughout.

Dancing Odette / Odile is the Romanian Alina Cojocaru - with a grace and allure that reached out across the curtain. The beauty of any ballet lies, not only within the elegance of its performers or the artistic talent of its creative team, but for the piece to convey the flowing drama of the narrative - a bar that is set all the higher when the production’s underlying fairy tale is not only one of dance's most fabled yarns, but is also so strong both in its moral rectitude and its global familiarity and recognition. In this iteration at the Coliseum, the English National Ballet have more than risen to the challenge, they raise the stakes too. The much loved story - even where every chapter is known and anticipated - is delivered here with such meticulous panache that one cannot help but weep at the unfolding, underlying tragedy.

Leading with Cojocaru are Joseph Caleb as Prince Seigfried and Jeffrey Cirio as Rothbart. There is a beautiful trusting naïveté to Caleb’s work that defines the uncompromised virtue of his Prince - and this contrasts magnificently with the feathered menace of Rothbart’s wickedness – his evil persona chillingly retained even whilst sat watching the court dances of the ballet’s third act.

Conducted on the night by Orlando Jopling, Tchaikovsky’s classic score becomes a whirl of musical wonder - the detail provided at times by the harp, or even (in act 3 again) the castanets, only enhancing the evening’s symphonic majesty. Its not just the music either, as Peter Farmer’s lavish stagings, with fogs across the lake deployed perfectly alongside Howard Harrison’s lighting that provides a flawless frame to the evening.

And as for the flock of swans - the avian/aquatic grace of the ENB’s 24 strong corps de ballet provide a shimmering. fluttering magnificence to an occasion of simply divine dance.

Runs until 13th January
Photo credit: Jason Bell

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