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Beautiful ballet but lacking in heart-pounding passion

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 12, 2012

TRADITIONAL: The Prince and the Swan in Moscow Ballet - La Classique's version of Swan Lake.

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Swan Lake

Moscow Ballet - La Classique

Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple

Review: Emma Lowe

AS the full house audience sat fidgeting, rustling packets of sweets and rummaging through their handbags, the show opened and the famous music of Tchaikovsky could be heard over a closed curtain.

Swan Lake, the world's most popular classical ballet, began with a kaleidoscope of colour, from the warm stage setting and props to the vibrant costumes.

Act One, The Garden of Prince Siegfried's castle, saw the prince celebrating his 21st birthday. As part of the celebrations, Wolfgang, the jester, was entertaining the audience with a mimed cheeky drink and bouncy routine.

Of all the dancers in the production he was perhaps the most engaging. He captured the humour of the opening act with his vivid facial expressions and was a real hit with the audience.

The staging was fantastic in the second act, The Lakeside By Moonlight, where the handsome prince discovers his white swan maiden. Behind a transparent curtain was a smoke filled stage emulating the still and eerie mill pond. It was wistful and romantic but then the prince entered the scene.

Though the performance was technically beautiful and the couple danced well together, it lacked the chemistry of love at first sight. The male lead looked almost uncomfortable in his role of the lovelorn prince.

Act Three, The Black Swan, was definitely the role of choice for female lead, Nadejda Ivanoa. She added a sexiness to the part and portrayed the contrast between the white and black swans exceptionally well.

The choreography strayed little away from the traditional and formulaic patterns of the original work and at times it would have been nice to have had an element of surprise.

That said, it was great to see the classic routines which we hope and expect to see when watching Swan Lake. There were many smiles in the audience as the quartet of white swans performed the iconic plucky and cheeky peek-a-boo routine with their arms crossed and their footwork intricate and quick. Many in the audience nodded their heads to the bouncy music and cheered as the piece finished.

Similarly, the final act had the usual and expected spectacular lifts, as love triumphed and the white swan was reunited with her prince.

Swan Lake is my favourite of all the ballets and I can still remember the goose pimples the first time I saw it. However, much like my favourite drink (in my opinion you cannot have a gin and tonic without a slice of lime), Swan Lake without some kind of tummy rumbling, teary-eyed passion or romantic believability is not the show we hope to fall in love with all over again.

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