Swans Visit The Riverside Theatre

Russian State Ballet

Swan Lake

Theatre Severn

31/October/2015

 

There was a spectacle of wonderful colour and vibrancy that delighted a packed house at Theatre Severn tonight.

On the Eve of All Hallows whilst goblins and ghouls are abroad in the air how better to spend it than lapping up a little magic from the captivating Russian State Ballet? Having already performed a matinee one might have expected a slightly less energized cast. Not a bit of it the leaps were as high, the moves just as tight and the pirouettes just as fast as one could ever hope for.

This is Russia’s signature Ballet and it has been being performed from around 1871 when Pytor Tchaikovsky wrote the score to suit a story he would tell his nieces about The Lake of Swans. Probably stemming for a German Folk Tale there is still debate of its true origins. The smart money is resting on a man called Vladimir Begichev. It is argued that he adapted the story and invited Tchaikovsky to provide the music. It was such a wonderful score the Ballet was to become such a hit that it is being performed somewhere in the world almost every day of this modern 21st century.

If one is to watch such a classical ballet then the Russian State Ballet and Opera House would be the one to watch.  With such beautiful costumes and fantastic traditional dance steps the performance briskly paced along. Odette is one of the parts that every young dancer wishes to perform. Naturally it follows that the top dancers, the principals, seize the part tightly and make it their own whilst still observing such tight classical conventions.

Tonight Odette, ( Black swan and White swan) Siegfried, Lord Rothberg and the Jester were danced so enchantingly one was carried off into a land of magic and sorcery. As for the ensemble, the dance of the Cygnets was so beautifully executed that one would be forgiven for trying to take one home. The lavish palace parties were also such wonderful demonstration of technique and the pastel dresses of the ladies flowed and billowed in such a magical and beautiful way. Full marks for costume throughout.

It was incredible that these dancers on the stage were only mortal dancers. Suspending disbelief for the duration one was taken journeying from lavish palaces to moonlit forests. The beautiful fragility of the swans shone out as a calming wave of femininity juxta posed with the strong hunting men the cruelty of the conflict was captured. It was really impressive to witness.

Aesthetically with its lines of symmetry during set pieces, and the synchronicity of the dancers that performed together; made this a pleasing sight to see.

Thinking of the hunger and poverty rife through Russia pre the 1917 rebellion one is mindful of how it would have impacted its first audiences.  Probably those scratching around for potato skins might have missed the early shows but even Middle Class Russians couldn’t have helped being awestruck of the opulence offered by a show like this one. But now things are slightly on a more even keel it is still a spectacle that will always impress.

Classical Ballet is as crucial in the scheme of dancing  as Contemporary, Modern, Jazz and Tap. Dance has always been an expressive art-form. Although  probably stemming  back to as long as we have had music, to capture it so precisely and  to use it to tell stories we have  the Ballerinas to thank.

It is heart-warming that as time moves us further and further away from the source of classical Ballets like Swan Lake, Companies such as The  Russian State Ballet will treat it as an art-form so fresh and still  so new. That isn’t bad for a show first conceived and performed almost 150 years ago.   

This is a Four Star Review.

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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