English Ballet's Swan Lake at The Royal Albert Hall: Wednesday 12 June - Sunday 23 June 2013
A Review by Alice Tofi A truly magical marriage of this much loved fairy tale ballet and iconic concert hall venue.
You know that a performance is accomplished when time flies between acts and, when it comes to an end, you wish it were longer. I had huge expectations for this ballet and from the first note of the orchestra, softly lit on a raised platform by the side of the round, it did not disappoint.
The round is an extremely large stage to fill, yet, whether it be occupied by cast members dancing, juggling and miming action, full of swans flocking together in a variety of beautifully synchronised formations, or purely the backdrop to a partnered or solo performance, this setting draws you in like no other, enhancing the translation of the narrative. Somehow it feels more intimate, making you part of the drama unfolding. This blank canvas comes alive with not only graceful dance but glistening and theatrical costumes, clouds of smoke and glowing mist, flashes of light and Tchaikovsky’s emotive music. I am not an expert when it comes to ballet and cannot comment on technique, however, Derek Deane’s choreography had me mesmerised and judging by the reaction of the audience throughout, the cast, with some impressive younger members, were exceptional. In fact, a special mention has to be given to the section including the black swan, for which the audience erupted with multiple rounds of applause at the outstanding execution from the dancers, including an incredible amount of rotations.
At times the stage is framed with cast members either acting as onlookers or holding beautiful shapes in freeze frame to display the inner action and another real highlight is the 60 shimmering white swans drifting across the floor with great elegance and the gentle rumble of feet as they enter and exit en masse. There’s something very satisfying and almost hypnotic about their movement, and not a peep (apart from the odd cry of ‘bravo’) was heard throughout the performance from the entire audience, including even the youngest of children. I cannot recommend it highly enough and, if by chance, there are any tickets still available, I suggest that you follow the link above to buy yours before it’s too late.