Last night we had the pleasure of going to the Empire in Liverpool to watch the Russian National Ballet perform – one of the greatest and most well-known ballets – Swan Lake.
To read another review of Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne click here
Firstly, I have to mention the audience. A massive well done to Liverpool and the Empire as it was sold out! The first full capacity theatre production I have been to in a good two years – what an absolute pleasure it was to see.
Onto the show, and what a show. It was mesmerising from start to finish. I must position myself here as I did ballet up to the age 18 so I have always loved going to watch it live and will never get bored. For anyone not familiar with Swan Lake I would always recommend reading up first which helps you follow the story.
This version begins with the Prince celebrating his birthday with friends before his mother, the Queen, tells him he must marry. Wanting some space he wanders down to the lake where he is captured by the spirit of one particular swan, Odette. Odette had a difficult childhood and ending up being looked after by her Grandfather, who was overwhelmed at the loss of his daughter, crying so much that his tears formed a lake which took Odette into it’s depths. Odette’s father is an evil knight who has power over her as a raven which follows her. She can be released from his power if she marries.
The Grand Ball is held at the Palace in Act II, where the Prince is meant to pick his bride, but none of maidens please him. Eventually Baron Rothbart arrives with his daughter Odile, who looks exactly like Odette – they dance and the Queen declares they will marry. However the Baron turns out to be the raven and the Prince realises it is not Odette. The Prince rushes to the lake to find Odette however they don’t get their happy ending.
I thought the majority of the dancing was beautiful, in particular both Odette and the Prince were incredible. Odette was so natural and elegant, she took your breath away. Swan Lake is probably best known for its corps de ballet (the group of dancers) which form a very impressive sight when they come together to perform. There is a nice variety with the dancing from different nationalities at the Grand Ball too, all of which was performed in character shoes rather than ballet, a nice touch.
I also need to commend the costumes, as you would expect from the Russian National Ballet, they were stunning. Odette and Odile in particular stood out. The tutu skirts were only half ridged, which I felt added to the movement of the swans making them look even more elegant. And I personally couldn’t take my eyes of the Spanish maiden – her dress and dancing were exceptional!
If I had one criticism it would be the back projection which helped position the story and the backdrop. It worked perfectly, however at one point there were swans flying across which I didn’t feel was necessary and for me took my eyes off the amazing dancing. However, don’t let that put you off – it’s a brilliant night out!