Review: Swan Lake

Swan LakeI’m not a dancer. I know little about the technicality of dance and what can be deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad. I can, however, express my appreciation for a show, the form of people moving across a stage, and the impression I’m left with upon leaving the theatre.

The Moscow City Ballet have just left Guildford following a three-night run of their productions of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, the former of which I went to see for myself. As I mentioned in my review of BalletBoyz, I have not seen much in the way of ballet – in fact, my only past experience was an adaptation of Wuthering Heights about 4 years ago. Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is one of those must-see productions, and the tour at GLive was too good to miss. I took my sister for her birthday as she’s longed to see it for years, and we went off with anticipation and a level of ignorance.

This review isn’t about the quality of dance, it is about the quality of show – and MCB know a thing or two about that. The costumes were exquisite – even from the upper circle, the intricate designs and detailing were apparent, creating a true theatrical spectacle that highlighted both the sense of story and the ability of the dancers. Prima Ballerina Liliya Orkehova, it almost goes without saying, was truly remarkable to watch. Her lithe form gliding across the stage with such ease was enchanting, and her constant strength was comparable only to that of Talgat Kozhabaev who performed Prince Siegfried. A surprisingly tall ballet dancer, he was graceful and consistent, playing not the passive male but confident and engaging in his solo performances.

However, for me the show was stolen by Artem Minakov, who performed as the Jester. With incredible precision and skill, he executed phrases of dance with wonderful expression that had us laughing and cheering. The combination of unavoidable talent with comic timing and character made Minakov unmissable, and magnetic to the eye, occasionally overshadowing the principal dancers with his mimed reactions to the story and small quips to the audience.

As my first experience of traditional ballet, it’s safe to say I couldn’t have made a better choice. A classic piece filled with iconic and stirring music conducted by Igor Shavruk, Swan Lake by the Moscow City Ballet had everything a performance should be. Keep an eye out for their return to the UK.

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