Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Swan Lake
English National Ballet
Friday, August 3rd 2012
The Visa delays that led to Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová partnering each other on opening night in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake (in the round, at the Royal Albert Hall, when Polina Semionova couldn’t get her Visa in time), caused more casting shuffles for the opening night of English National Ballet’s Swan Lake season at the London Coliseum, as did injuries. So Zdenek Konvalina debuted in this production as Prince Seigfried, partnering Erina Takahashi as Odette/Odile.
Swan Lake is a hard ballet, no quibbles there, but no-one needs to hear how hard it is, from the pointe shoes. Nothing spoils the illusion of a serene swan more than the noise of a herd of elephants as they stamp out the steps. I appreciate that some parts of the ballet demand a solid pointe shoe; it’s incredibly taxing for the ladies of the company, some of whom are Swans, Cygnets, Peasants and Princesses (one of whom had a different coloured dress from the others) all on the same night, but the dancers know that noisy pointe shoes are a turn-off for the audience.
It wasn’t a great start, either. In Acts 1 & 11 some of the dancing was sloppy; in the Pas de Douze & Polonaise Yonah Acosta was out of time and fell out of too many turns and Konvalina’s partnering was inconsistent. He’s great on his own; he has velvet hands that constantly caress the air and a jump to die for. There were occasional glimpses of a connection with the audience but for the most part it doesn’t seem to be there, and that’s a problem for a Senior Principal dancer. With Takahashi, there were some lovely moments, such as when she tipped her face up towards him and he looked at her with such awe, but she must have been wondering where he was for some of the time. It wasn’t all their fault though – the orchestra were all over the place at times as well as out of tune.
By Act 111, someone must have had a word during the interval and things were much, much sharper. It also looked as though the dancers were having fun too; and that’s infectious. Takahashi can whip off those fouettes, barely moving from the centre line, and Konvalina’s soaring jumps are beautiful. The moment when Odette appears as Siegfried’s back is turned is almost obscured by the action but Odile’s intentions couldn’t be clearer. James Streeter was a late replacement as Rothbart, who wears so much seaweed it’s hard to tell who is dancing. The divertissements in Act 111 were well danced, with Barry Drummond and Crystal Costa tackling the Neapolitan Dance with some panache and good timing. Still, the Czardas is an ensemble dance and as such it doesn’t work when one of the ensemble is shouting to be seen above the others.
Throughout, the Swans were impeccable, moving as one glorious flock, and for that alone, you should buzz along to the Coliseum and see this production.
Swan Lake is in rep at the London Coliseum until the 11th August.