Sunday, 26 August 2018

REVIEW: Swan Lake at the London Coliseum

Swan Lake is probably the best known ballet in the world. Tchaikovsky’s most famous work tells the story of a cursed princess named Odette (the white swan) who lives in captivity under the watchful eye of the evil Rothbart. She falls in love with the handsome Prince Siegfried who seeks to save her. He swears a vow of love to Odette but when he celebrates his 21st birthday, Rothbart brings his sister, Odile (the black swan) in disguise so Siegfried believes she is Odette. He proclaims his love to her before Odile is revealed as her true self and the Prince is left heartbroken and confused by his mistake. Odette hears of this and resounds herself to life as a swan without her Prince. Will true love conquer all or will Odette remain a feathered prisoner forever?

The roles of Odette and Odile are famously played by the same dancer - a tremendous ask of physical agility and ability from the ballerina. Irina Kolesnikova is the Prima Ballerina for St Petersburg Ballet Theatre and leads this production in these roles. You will not find a more exquisite and expressive dancer anywhere. Every fibre of her body tells the story - her contorted arms and sensational flexibility allow her to truly become a swan and demonstrate all Odette’s story with breathtaking beauty. 

This classical ballet is all en pointe with lavish costumes of stunning quality, grand sets and the incomparable ENO orchestra to boot. The corps de ballet are all remarkable - synchronicity to make ones jaw drop and true artistry demonstrated by every one. Dmitriy Akulinin as Prince Siegfried was a truly commanding presence and partnered perfectly with Kolesnikova. Their chemistry was electric. Sergei Fedorkov featured as the Prince’s Jester and was an obvious audience favourite - his leaps and spins received huge applauses mid-scene and his silent comedy was a welcome relief during lighter moments of this otherwise intensely dark ballet. 

Act 2 (of 3) features a stunning section of Spanish dance which was a surprising injection in this piece but one which remains prominent in my mind. The featured soloists back bends contrasted with their elevated leaps and upward stretches were something I’ve never seen before and truly stood out from the evening’s classic choreography.

If you’ve never seen a ballet before, I implore you to spread your wings and see
something different. This art form is magnificent and this company have executed a truly divine production. Kolesnikova will rank with the likes of Margot Fonteyn, Yekaterina Maximova and Anna Pavlova having been Prima since 2001 - do not miss your chance to see her on a London stage. This production is worth seeing for her alone; the fact that everything else is also perfection is just more cause to see it. 

Heart-wrenching beauty from start to finish.

Review by Harriet Langdown

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Stalls J37 | Price of Ticket: £95
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