Thoughts On: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake

I’m going to preface this by saying I know very little about the technical aspects of dance; someone has to fall over before I realise that something has gone wrong. However, I adore watching ballet. When I was little I poured over a DK guide to ballet, trying to teach myself the various foot positions. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to watch a matinee performance of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of the classic ballet Swan Lake with my friend from uni, and it was just lovely.
The ballet is the story of Odette (Momoko Hirata), a princess cursed by the evil Rothbart (Valentin Olovyannikov) to spend her days as a swan and only becomes a human in the early hours of the morning. One night, Prince Siegfried (Joseph Caley) spots her whilst fleeing from his mother’s (Ana Albutashvili) wishes to see him married and ascend the throne. They fall in love, but are torn apart by a cruel trick by Rothbart and this version of the story does not end well.
As it’s a pretty traditional ballet, the only thing I found a little odd was the constant solo dances that didn’t seem to do much to further the story of the dance; although this may just be a reflection of the fact that the last ballet I saw was Romeo & Juliet which is known for being a more story-telling ballet.
That being said, the sets and costumes of this production are just incredible-there was even a moment the audience applauded the dry-ice! The principal performances were all really good-Caley is apparently 30 but looks younger than me and was a really great partner to Hirata. She was a beautiful dancer as Odette, but I literally gasped at her dancing as Odile-where she executes numerous turns without any kind of pause.
Really for me though, the stars were the chorus of swan maidens. The choreography requires them to be completely in sync and the BRB chorus truly were. There were stand-out dances by the ‘cygnets’ a quartet made up of Ruth Brill, Laura Day, Reina Fuchigami & Beatrice Parma; they perform a short solo holding hands and it’s incredible. There was also really good solo spots from Yvette Knight and Yijing Zhang as the lead swan maidens. Knight’s other appearance raised the one big laugh out loud as the Polish Princess facing off to Delia Mathews’ Hungarian Princess for the affections of Siegfried.
I really loved my time at the Hippodrome, this is such a beautiful ballet completed by a simply gorgeous score by Tchaikovsky. It’s on in Birmingham until Tuesday and then on tour so I will link further details here. I’m definitely going to try and utilise having such a brilliant company on my doorstep.

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