Swan Lake : English National Ballet

March 24, 2011

Ballet, Ballet News, Reviews

Black Swan

Daria & Vadim

Swan Lake
Laurretta Summerscales

Swan Lake

English National Ballet

London Coliseum

Wednesday, 23rd March 2011

Swan Lake
Photography throughout : Helen Maybanks

English National Ballet’s Swan Lake choreographed by Derek Deane (the ninth Swan Lake mounted by the company) begins with a Prologue telling the story of Princess Odette, who is kidnapped by Rothbart (half-man, half-bird) who turns her into a swan. This might help to explain the reason behind Odette’s sorrowful lakeside entrance for newcomers to the ballet, and if the current trend is any indication, there will have been plenty in need of the introduction tonight.  The lady next to me was almost drowning in tears, just half-way through.

Max Westwell & James Forbat

Max Westwell & James Forbat

We first meet Princess Odette, Daria Klimentová, dancing as she holds a rose, kneeling down, suddenly disturbed by the arrival of Rothbart in a cloud of smoke with his great flapping lumps of seaweed encircling her. By a trick of the light, a swan appears, thereby sealing her fate.

Meanwhile, a birthday party is underway for Prince Siegfried, with plenty of dancing.  Vadim Muntagirov, as Prince Siegfried, joins the entertainment as various dancers waltz and decorate the palace with flowers. Junor Souza has high, neat clean feet and before you know it the Pas de Quatre is underway.  Laurretta Summerscales was strong, well partnered by Max Westwell and together with Begoña Cao & James Forbat they powered their way through symmetrical turns and jumps. Do these steps belong in Swan Lake ? No.  Do the dancers look like they’re enjoying them ? Again, no. But they do give it their all.

two male ballet dancers in high jump

Max Westwell & James Forbat

two female dancers in arabesque

Laurretta Summerscales & Begona Cao

It is lovely to see Kei Akahoshi beaming out from the front of the stage, and her delightful, delicately nuanced dancing could be clearly seen. 

dancer in pointe on stage

Kei Akahoshi & Michael Coleman

dancers en pointe

Kei Akahoshi

dancer in Swan Lake

Kei Akahoshi

Vadim begins his adagio solo full of longing, stretching out every sinew of muscle and music in superbly controlled arabesques, feet gracefully sweeping the floor. My seat neighbour really had the taps on full flow watching Muntagirov thoughtfully co-ordinate every move with meaning; lost in time.

male ballet dancer in Swan Lake

Vadim Muntagirov

Rothbart opens Act 11 in another cloud of ice and mischief, sending Prince Siegfried and Odette into whirls, as he spots her and is captivated. Rothbart commands every swan to the lakeside and the full corps de ballet arrive en masse.

dancer in Swan lake

Fabian Reimair as Rothbart

Daria Klimentová knows Odette and her flashier half Odile inside out, but she brings a fresh, even more sorrowful reading each time.  I think she has more fun with Odile, smiling more, taking in the situation and her advantage. With Muntagirov’s partnering improving all the time, particularly in the lifts, their pas de deux are rooted in a languorous desire wrapped in fear. Once Siegfried has promised not to shoot her with his birthday present (a crossbow) and declared undying love for her, there is only one way this is ever going to end.

dancer in arabesque in white tutu

Daria Klimentova as Odette

dancers in Swan Lake

Daria Klimentova and Fabian Reimair

Swan lake

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Daria & Vadim

Swan lake

Daria & Vadim

Swan Lake

Daria & Vadim

The Cygnets, Kei Akahoshi, Désirée Ballantyne, Senri Kou and Anjuli Hudson danced the famous steps perfectly in time with each other and the music.  Senri Kou has an impish, ethereal elegance and serenity that suits the role perfectly and she’s a joy to watch in anything.

Swan Lake

Kei Akahoshi, Desiree Ballantyne, Senri Kou, Anjuli Hudson

Swan Lake

Kei Akahoshi, Desiree Ballantyne, Senri Kou, Anjuli Hudson

Swan Lake

Jenna Lee & Laura Bruna as Lead Swans

Swan Lake

Yat-Sen Chang

Swan Lake

Laura Bruna

Swan Lake

Act 111 sees us back in the Palace where the formal celebrations for Siegfried’s birthday are taking place.  Guests arrive, including six princesses whom his mother has invited as a none too subtle hint that it’s time to wed.  Muntagirov is polite but aloof, spending his time dancing with the girls when he has to or hovering around the edges of his own party.

For those of you who’ve been asking about Daniel Jones (last seen on BBC Four’s documentary about English National Ballet called Agony & Ecstasy : A year With English National Ballet, very much at the agony end of the spectrum with a hernia), well, see for youself !

Swan Lake

Tamarin Stott & Daniel Jones

Swan Lake

Tamarin Stott & Daniel Jones

Swan Lake

Tamarin Stott & Daniel Jones

Jones looked over the moon & back again to be on stage; he’s a great actor and you need to act your way out of those heavy costumes and boots.  Smiling from ear to ear he made light work of the partnering (Tamarin Stott, who was excellent) and the jumps; trousers and everything else flying with him.  His joy was utterly infectious and even my seat neighbour stopped crying and cautiously attempted to beam back at him.

Swan Lake

Tamarin Stott & Daniel Jones

Swan Lake

Tamarin Stott & Daniel Jones

Yat-Sen Chang and Crystal Costa know how to work the crowd in the Neapolitan Dance, and even the tambourines behaved (well caught by Jones who then proceeded to tap away in graceful time to the music, long extensions and tapered fingers all the way through).  Heaven.

Swan Lake

Crystal Costa & Yat-Sen Chang

Laura Bruña & Laurent Liotardo stole the limelight temporarily in the Spanish Dance, enthusiastically drawing every beat from the score.

Swan Lake

Daria Klimentova as Odile

Daria Klimentová returns as Odile, Rothbart’s daughter who is disguised as Odette.  Both Klimentová and Muntagirov excel at letting go and racing through the arabesques and jetes at breakneck speed; Klimentova’s 32 fouettes were quite possibly taken without breath.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Daria Klimentova

Swan Lake

Daria Klimentova

Once Siegfried has been tricked into believeing that Odile is his true love, we find Odette in Act 1V back at the lakeside in despair.  Plunging among the swans to find Odette, Muntagirov has mastered dropping to his knees and almost quivering with remorse, with the effect that Odette forgives him his betrayal.  Despite fighting with Rothbart, Odette decides that she cannot continue.  Klimentová dances with fragility here, slipping gently & unfolding from Muntagirov’s embrace, collapsing to the floor, hands over feet.  She throws herself into the lake, followed by Siegfried.  As the swan maidens gather and group towards a new dawn on the horizon, the pair are reunited in eternal love.

Swan lake

Daria Klimentova

Swan LAke

Daria & Vadim

Swan Lake

Daria & Vadim

Swan Lake

Daria & Vadim

Swan Lake is in rep at the London Coliseum until 26th March 2011.

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5 Responses to “Swan Lake : English National Ballet”

  1. Ballet News Says:

    John B Sheffield : Once more you bring us such superb photographs that are a credit to the photographer and the fine young dancers featured in them. Your quick review is also so appreciated from so many of us in the rest of the UK are not always able to make it to these presentations.

    I am sure the BBC3 Documentary “Agony and Ecstasy” will have done much good for the English National Ballet and it’s superb young and committed company of Dancers, long may that continue
    (links disabled)

  2. Couture Carrie Says:

    Amazing costumes and pics!
    Love this ballet!

    xoxox,
    CC

  3. Teresa Stokes Says:

    I was there in the 2nd row of the dress circle and forgot my binoculars, so it’s a real treat to have these still pictures and see all the detail, and I shall keep this link for the memories. It was a fabulous, fantastic night. There was a member of the press behind me who said that he had noticed Daria Klimentova make a few small errors, but he was amused because she gave a little smile each time as if to say “I got away with it that time!” Not being a ballet expert myself I wouldn’t have noticed anything myself of course. He also said what lovely traditional painted scenery it was; not set in a rubbish dump! Another of my neighbours said that she had come purely as a result of seeing the TV series which had got her interested.

  4. Ballet News Says:

    thank you to John and Couture Carrie

    Teresa – good to hear from you and thank you for your lovely comments about the photographs. It sounds as though you had a good old chat with your neighbours which is lovely. Critics work in different ways; I myself would not mention small errors because hardly any performance is perfect and the vast majority of the audience will not notice and it does not spoil their enjoyment. The dancers know when something hasn’t quite worked and they don’t need to read about it from me. It is very heartening to hear that the TV series has had an effect on ticket sales too.

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  1. Helen Maybanks Photography – Blog » Blog Archive » Swan Lake – English National Ballet - March 28, 2011

    […] like to see an excellent explanation and review of the ballet please take a look at their Swan Lake review and additional photo gallery. Filed under Ballet, Dance having No Comments » […]