Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Swan Lake

August 4, 2012

Reviews

Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Swan Lake

Swan Lake

English National Ballet

London Coliseum

Friday, August 3rd 2012

Swan Lake

Swan Lake Photograph : Helen Maybanks

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.

ballet dancers in swan lake

Erina Takahashi and Zdenek Konvalina in Swan Lake. Photograph : Arnaud Stephenson

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.

black swan

Erina Takahashi and Zdenek Konvalina in Swan Lake. Photograph : Arnaud Stephenson

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.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake photograph : Helen Maybanks

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4 Responses to “Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Swan Lake”

  1. Ballet News Says:

    Anthony Alldritt says : I absolutely enjoyed seeing Swan Lake for what was my second time. Well done to the English National Ballet cast.

  2. Ballet News Says:

    Mimi Pereira says : I hope the presence of Tamara Rojo in the company really shake things up because I feel the company is way way behind others and has such talents who are not being used wisely.

  3. seejaybe43 Says:

    Opening night with the two Principals substituted at last minute and – unforgivably – without a pre-curtain announcement.
    Yes, Rojo needs to give the Company fresh direction and impetus. The first thing to be addressed in this production (after the disastrous trumpet solo in the Neapolitan Dance) is the lack of spark between this Odette and Siegfried. And Michael Coleman’s outrageous mugging as The Tutor is shockingly intrusive and attention-seeking: this former Royal Ballet principal should know better. (It’s Swan Lake, Michael, NOT The Concert!) As for the ever-texting, crisp-munching, cola-swilling audience members around me who so spoiled my evening that I left before the last Act, the less said the better. New audiences may well be the lifeblood of classsical ballet…but please consider your fellow balletomanes and look to them for guidance as to how you should behave.

  4. Ballet News Says:

    seejaybe43 – Were there any cast sheets available ? ENB provides free cast sheets where the changes are, time allowing, indicated.