Reviews Dance Published 24 March 2011

Swan Lake

London Coliseum ⋄ 22nd – 26th March 2011

English National Ballet stages a classic.

Sam Smith
Swan Lake

The four cygnets. Photo: Daria Klimentová

Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová are rapidly developing into English National Ballet’s dream team, having already taken the leads in Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker this season. Muntagirov first played Prince Siegfried (opposite Klimentová and Polina Semionova) in Derek Deane’s ‘in the round’ production of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall last June, and the pair now reunite in the choreographer’s proscenium arch version.

There is far more, however, to this production than their performances alone, and Act One’s festivities reveal some exceptionally nimble footwork. Grace and a lightness of touch combine with some intelligent choreography to generate some interesting formations and give many of the dances quite a racy edge. A strong human element is also introduced by showing the vast range of people and classes that surround the royals. The courtiers dress in green, the peasants in autumnal colours, and the two groups never mingle, sticking firmly to their own particular dances.

Particularly impressive is the pas de quatre, which introduces some interesting music (no production includes everything that Tchaikovsky wrote for the ballet) and four exemplary individual turns. James Forbat and Max Westwell possess a brilliant light athleticism, while Begoña Cao and Laurretta Summerscales demonstrate such flexibility and effortlessness in their dances that it hands these an almost mystical air.

Muntagirov’s performance is, as ever, characterised by suppleness and agility, cleanness through the air and delicacy of poise. He also effectively blends his own style in with that of the six female dancers in the polonaise, while his solo at the end of Act One reveals how even at the age of twenty he is already developing into quite a psychological dancer. When he first encounters Odette in Act Two, Klimentová is strong on physical emotion without quite capturing a sense of spiritual connection with Siegfried. This problem, however, does not persist and their Act Two pas de deux is wondrously expressive, technically precise and as smooth and silk.

Over the evening as a whole Klimentová’s greater experience does come to the fore. While it is still occasionally obvious that Muntagirov is concentrating hard, she can enjoy the ‘luxury’ of enabling her character to shine through at every turn. In Act Three as the wicked Black Swan, Odile, she is both flashy and seductive. Her 32 fouettés are fascinatingly showy, and she reveals herself to be merely a tool of her father by her callousness towards Siegfried at the close. It is then captivating to see Klimentová so completely revert to portraying Odette’s lyrical sorrow in Act Four for an ending that is striking in the extent to which it utilises the corps de ballet to defy the evil Baron von Rothbart (Fabian Reimair). With slick character performances from Jane Haworth’s Queen and Michael Coleman’s Tutor, and Gavin Sutherland’s sumptuous conducting of the Orchestra of English National Ballet, this is a truly memorable evening.

Casts vary over the run. For further details, visit the ENB website.

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Sam Smith is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Swan Lake Show Info


Produced by English National Ballet

Choreography by Derek Deane after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov

Link http://www.ballet.org.uk/

Running Time 3 hrs (including two 20 minute intervals)

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