English National Ballet’s Swan Lake in-the-round, choreographed by Derek Deane, is ballet on a grand scale, a public spectacle charged with drama and excitement.
The Sunday matinee had a unique buzz about it, thanks to the dozens of little girls, all aspiring swans, lost in the dream of ballet as they tried out their steps in the intervals. It was a packed, bustling audience, suddenly hushed by Gavin Sutherland’s arrival at the podium to start Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music.
The set was minimal, due to the nature of the space, but the lighting added detail and atmosphere. Peter Farmer’s designs were beautiful, soft grey-greens and muted golds but, sitting high up in the balcony, I wished for stronger colours and bolder contrasts.
Act One was carnival time with spirited national dances, tumblers and acrobats adding to the glorious spectacle. The Pas de Trois, now the Pas de Douze, was beautifully and evenly danced. It was exciting to see the dancers’ extended entrances and exits from various points in the vast arena.
The Act Two duet (danced by Fernanda Oliveira and Dmitiri Gruzdyev) created a spellbinding mood to the aching beauty of the cello and violin. The pair was wonderfully matched.
Later, the sight of the sixty shimmering swans appearing through the dry ice was heart-stopping. The gentle throbbing of sixty pairs of pointe shoes, like one enormous heartbeat, was truly emotional! The synchronisation and patterning looked exquisite from above.
The Royal Albert Hall lacks the intimacy required to fully draw the audience into the tender tragedy of Swan Lake but it certainly provides an arena for the sheer exhilaration and theatricality of the ballet.
Filed under: Ballet, Dance | 1 Comment
Tags: Dance is the Word, Derek Deane, Dmitiri Gruzdyev, English National Ballet, Fernanda Oliveira, Gavin Sutherland, Swan Lake, The Royal Albert Hall