Swan Lake Review

StoryHouse, Chester – until Saturday 1 February 2020

Reviewed by Julie Noller


Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet has pirouetted into StoryHouse this drab January twirling us into February. I took my seat in the auditorium not in any way shape or form as a ballet expert but someone who enjoys the whole theatre experience.

Theatre is as they say 9/10ths interpretation and ballet is certainly no exception to the rule. It’s an art, expressive dance and in my very humble opinion should be and indeed can be viewed so by the very different members of the audience. I noted surprisingly for such a classic ballet that the packed auditorium was mainly the older generation perhaps teachers or long time ballet fans; infact the whispers I heard throughout discussing moves suggested this was correct. There were those who hummed along to the Hungarian Sinfonietta Orchestra as they were swiftly guided by conductor Gunters Bernats after all Swan Lake is Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece and despite it’s initial failure in 1876 continues to be one of the most popular ballets of all time.

There can not be many ballets out there who can claim to have been parodied by many well loved comedians or infact can claim to be a leading influence on many well loved films (take Shrek for starters). I would advise any perhaps looking at ticking off a bucket list that Swan Lake is quite long with 2 intervals (or 3 acts) not to be like John sat behind us who had to leave before the end in order to catch a bus, it would be sad not to see the ballet through to finale and do not let it’s 120 minutes (not including intervals) put you off for they are breathtaking moments.

Swan Lake is essentially a classic love story; Prince seeks a wife, no beauty across the countries sparks his interest until a cursed humble beauty crosses his path. Basically love and good conquers evil. The cheers and the boos at the final curtain down suggested somewhat of a pantomime however were well deserved Yassaui Mergaliyev was cheeky and fun as the Jester. Evgeniy Silakov was menacing as Von Rothbart looming large on stage as a contrast to the white swans in his black dark shadowy outfit. He has cursed Odette to live her life as a swan, beautifully and elegantly danced by Alina Volobueva she outshone all those who graced the stage with her. Alina of course portrays Odille in a darker black costume that is equally as striking as her all white ensemble. Siegfried (Vadim Lolenko) our Prince comes to life as he dance with Odette as he powerfully leaps and holds her aloft, finally breaking her curse. Marina Medvetskaya has expertly directed Swan Lake building the dances in wonderful contrast to the haunting music. Each signature dance was showcased the audience given time to show their appreciation, classic dances were given a ballet twist showing just how talented and versatile these dancers truly are. StoryHouse is a smaller theatre and they utilised every inch of the stage, leaping from corner to corner in just 2 very long strides. Spins and twirls that had you smiling with sheer enjoyment.

Swan Lake is quietly powerful compared to other ballets, but what it does showcase is technique, skill and style. A must for ballet students looking to perhaps improving technique; many a move has been copied and attempted (unfortunately not by me for I lack both style and finesse) The music is a must for connoisseurs of a fine score, take the time to enjoy the haunting well known melodies of Tchaikovsky. Finally for those who enjoy a love story it is enchanting in it’s grace.