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Moscow City Ballet:Swan Lake – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Libretto: Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltzer

Director: Natalia Ryzhenko, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov

Choreography: Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, Agrippina Vaganova, Yuri Grigorovich, Natalia Ryzhenko, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov

Reviewer: Sara Jackson


The Moscow City Ballet presenting Swan Lake as part of a season which also includes The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping beauty. A season of the classics presented in there most traditional form.

There have been no attempts to modify or adapt the production like with Matthew Bourne or other recent famous productions. This is a return to the classic Swan Lake in all it’s slender.

I have to say the opening of the production was rather ropey. There was a long gap between the lighting change and the orchestra striking up. It may be because the audience was predominantly made up of young drama and dance students, but this led to the audience talking again like nothing was happening. So when the curtains opened and the ballet began it took a long time for the audience to notice and settle down appropriately.

Now, I am fairly new to ballet so I don’t know how many of the problems I had with this production are just typical ballet customs but in the name of honesty I am going to give my opinion.

The opening act of the show seemed very uncertain; it lacked lustre and attack from the dancers. And the first half of the show was fairly unimpressive. There was nothing too impressive in the choreography by Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa and Victor Smirnov-Golovanov. It was a bit like they were holding the really impressive moves back for the second half. Which may well be true since the second half was much more improved. The only exception to this was the dancer playing The Joker, who was wonderful to watch throughout and added a much needed pace and attack to the piece.

I should also say that I got rather bored of being forced to applaud the dancers after every small section they did. This may well be one of the ballet traditions that I’m new too but stopping to bow every few minutes, practically considering the length of time some of the lavish bows took (some of them lasted longer that the applause itself) was far too diva-ish for my liking and really held up the pace of the piece.

The set for the piece was painted onto backdrops in the usual ballet style, imaginative lighting helped to create an atmosphere inspite of the tacky backdrops but I think that more effort could have been made.

The costumes by Elisaveta Dvorkina were stunning and by far the best thing about the piece. They were beautifully made, and helped with following the story line by defining the characters completely.

All in all, I think big ballet fans would really enjoy this piece. It sticks with all the traditional ballet techniques and I’m sure was entertain anybody very interested in dance. But modern dance has moved on and a modern audience is looking for something more impressive, more passionate and more imaginative.

Reviewed Friday 14th January

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One comment

  1. I saw this production later in it’s run, when the problems that you encountered had obviously been sorted out.
    Having been sceptical about Swan Lake on a stage the size of the Lyceum’s, I was amazed at the atmosphere they created through just backdrops and light, and the immediacy and emotional depth that their live orchestra adds. This simplicity left me free to concentrate on the dance more.
    I was very impressed with the second act, and so were the people next to me. Odette was wonderful, very much absorbed in her role. As Odile she was just sparkling.
    I hope that the company will return to Sheffield, even if it won’t be Swan Lake again any time soon.