Everything about this performance of Swan Lake was just so beautiful, from the costumes, glittering and carried in majestic sweeps by the wonderful dancers, to the gradually-building drama and malevolence of the story itself, deftly portrayed by both orchestra and dancers.
Everyone told me that I’d be swept away by the music of Swan Lake, and the orchestra’s performance made it impossible not to be. Tchaikovsky’s score was played with the same dexterity and lightness of touch that the dancers brought to the stage. The whole orchestra was entirely entwined with the dancing and emotion on the stage, making it seem as though the music was simply floating in the air. In particular, the harpist and percussionist delivered the magical, the ominous and the poignant with delicate precision.
The initial corps de ballet routine was a little out of sync and, while Kirill Bulychev’s performance of the Prince’s friend was danced with confidence, there were a few wobbles and the choreography seemed slightly unimaginative. This shaky start was short-lived, however, as the first appearance of Von Rothbart (the Evil Genius, danced by Egor Osokin) switched the whole thing into gear. Osokin sent shivers down my spine as he first appeared, shadowing the Prince, moving with chilling precision. Each time he appeared he dominated from the shadows as his sleek and enthralling movements emanated foreboding, cunning and enchantment.
Another outstanding dancer was Ekaterina Bulgatove, playing Odette/Odile; her skill and poise were simply breathtaking. Fluttering and gliding as the white swan, her romantic routine with Nikolai Chevyvhelov left you in no doubt as to why the Prince falls in love with Odette. Her sharp and Mae West-esque portrayal of Odile, on the other hand, was such a deft contrast that she almost seemed to be a different dancer.
The corps de ballet during the lake scenes was also wonderful, and special mention has to go to the Spanish Bride at the ball, whose enviable black and red flamenco dress and latin-inspired routine were just fabulous.
The brevity of the final scenes I found disappointing. The Prince and Von Rothbart looked so dramatic battling across the stage, but it was over in minutes. Considering the impressive swell of emotion that had been built, it was a surprisingly jarring ending. And while Odette was left to dance alone, I unexpectedly began to well up, but barely had time to shed a tear before the final curtain came down.