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Swan Lake - Moscow City Ballet (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Opera House
Where: Manchester

The signature piece of any ballet company, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece is interpreted by the famous Moscow City Ballet and its Russian choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov.

The jester's presence brings the colour, the evil sorcerer brings the dark, and of course Tchaikovsky brings the music. The deafeningly moving and iconic sounds bring to life the story of the desperate passion and mourning of our protagonists: a prince who falls in love with a beautiful woman, Odette, who only transforms from a swan at night by the lake after falling victim to the owl-like sorcerer’s spell.

The most enchanting scenes are, without doubt, those which feature the white swans in all their glory, only trumped by the powerful and beguiling dances by the company’s prima ballerina, Liliya Oryekhova, and the prince.

The principal is recognisable by her talent alone: precise, agile, graceful, flowing, simply captivating. She floats, her movement all-encompassed by her loss and she embodies Odette’s beauty and longing. It wouldn't have been a shock to see her fly right off stage, such was her delicate flight around the stage.

The second half (third act) has a lacklustre start following the crescendo of the first, during which Prince Siegfried and Odette fall in love. Here we see more dancing at the castle, and although it is not without merit, the story only comes back to life when we are introduced to Odile, the sorcerers daughter used to ensnare the prince away from his love. It gets very interesting again, with a powerful climax as music and limbs burst around the stage.

This production falls short of a five star rating as, even with an untrained eye, it is clear that at times there is imperfection. The flawlessness of the company’s prima ballerina unfortunately also serves to show the other dancers are just not up to the same standard. However, this may be asking too much.

- Claire Smith


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