I had expected the Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s performance of Swan Lake to be bursting with Latin-American effervescence and hot-bloodedness. This did, sometimes, though not always, materalise. For instance, when the Jester (Osiel Gounod) appears before the court in Act I, his leaps and pirouettes are performed with zest though the rest of that Act is fairly lacklustre.
Thankfull though, after that, things really pick up. The swans and cygnets are a palette of perfectly synchronised white tiptoes, a tribute to the original 1948 choreography of their founder, Alicia Alonso, now approaching 90. The Spanish dance which you would imagine would be full of life is inhibited because it involves only two dancers but less is more here as Viengsay Valdes and Elier Bourzac are, nevertheless, technically brilliant.
I am disappointed that, unlike the performances in London, we are denied a live orchestra, as this seems like a sign of the North/South divide. And the scenery is drab but the costumes attractive, particularly in the court scene in the final act.
This ballet is bought to life with its evil characters as it is they who convey the most passion. Von Rothbart, (played in different acts by Yadil Suarez and Leandro Perez) is created as a giant, unfeeling moth who, by his dance style and looks, sends shivers down your spine.
But when Anette Delgado, who is also the good and beautiful Odette, appears from behind the sorcerer’s cloak dressed in black, he is as nothing. For her Odile epitomises evil combined with sensuality and she symbolises by looks and movement, the predator wicked woman. Any man would have been tempted by the hypnotic attraction which ensnares her beau.
Hypnotised though the male onlookers may be by her beauty, they cannot fail to notice the technical excellence of Delgado’s dancing, especially when performing over 30 fouettes.
Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to see Carlo Acosta as Prince Siegfried but, in his place, we have Javier Torres who excels in the acting side of his art whilst leaping effortlessly around the stage.
When sex is overpowered by love and Delgado becomes Odette again, there is a final and unforgettable pas de deux when the two are united forever and, as in the best of fairy tales, presumably live happily ever after.
So, apart from the odd flaw, this Swan Lake is passionate and impeccably performed.