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Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake" still has the power to mesmerise audiences, says Kristy Stott.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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The Lowry

Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake"
© New Adventures

When you hear the words ‘Swan Lake', many ideas pop up into your mind - possibly ideas of men in white leggings and petite ladies pirouetting across the stage; their hair secured into a tight bun; wearing pointe shoes and a tutu.

Director and Choreographer Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is entirely different and any preconceptions that I had about going to ‘the ballet' and the experience associated with this were turned on their head within moments of the show starting.

Matthew Bourne's interpretation of the original Tchaikovsky score and his re-imagining of this traditional story is striking - we have bare chested and feathered male swans instead of the usual female corps de ballet and we have a menacing and passionate male swan (Jonathan Olivier) in the place of Princess Odette.

Jonathan Olivier gives an impressive show - full of strength and grace, commanding an animalistic and haunting presence in contrast to the vulnerability and sensitivity of Simon Williams' Prince. And with Bourne's direction and Rick Fisher's delightful lighting design, their latent desire for each other is illustrated beautifully when they dance their mesmerising midnight duet.

Lez Brotherston's set design of clinical white tiles, distorted railing and stark white finger-like branches all manage to convey a sense of unease and frame the agile and passionate dancers. There is not a weak link in this committed and talented cast; Bourne's choreography does not allow technical dance etiquette to interfere with the skilled storytelling that the ensemble deliver of this modern classic.

Matthew Bourne's rethinking of this time less classic and Tchaikovsky's original score is striking and bold. And now in its eighteenth year it is still going strong - it is provocative and audacious; dreamlike and nightmarish in equal measure.

At the end, the audience who had been captivated throughout, jumped up to their feet to give rapturous applause and a well-deserved standing ovation.

If there is one dance show that you should see - it most definitely is Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - you will not be disappointed.

-Kristy Stott


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