reviewed by Chris Richards.
Birmingham Royal Ballet dance while Royal Ballet Sinfonia play – a winning formula which produces engaging and dramatic characterisation. The exquisitely executed artistic performances tell a heart felt, tragic love story.
Tchaikovsky’s musical score and Sir Peter Wright and Galina Samsova’s production are inseparable in their brilliance. It is clear everyone involved in the performance, off stage and on work passionately contributing to a palpable connection with the audience, as we are swept into the warm embrace of Romanticism at its finest. Dancer’s feet striking the boards add to the percussion in the orchestra seamlessly, at odds with magnificent leaps and jumps that are landed lighter than a leaf falling to rest on a lake.
Céline Gittens and Tyrone Singleton lead the company in the roles of Princess Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried respectively. Gittens’ dancing is truly wonderful. The 18 synchronised swans dancing is breathtaking and at the moment of Baron von Rothbart’s downfall, the juxtaposition of fierce intimidation and elegant beauty is a moment I hope never to forget. I am left enchanted by Singleton’s stage presence and precision, all is radiant with emotion. The extremely heavy costumes of the courtiers and royals are made to appear weightless by the grace and poise of the undeniably talented artists.
The costumes were originally made for the 1981 production they have been maintained meticulously by the company costumiers for nearly 40 years. Stores of original fabrics were kept but as the stocks deplete and the fabrics are discontinued this commitment to quality is ever more challenging, I suspect only to be conquered admirably. While chatting to one of the Company’s dancers he said there are still original performers’ names sewn inside some of the costumes; an exciting insight and tangible connection to many wonderful dancers who have gone before in this enduring and powerful edition of the unsurpassable Swan Lake.
Captivating music, dazzling costumes, emotional and moving dancing, all surrounded by utterly beautiful set design are surely reason enough to visit Swan Lake at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. If you are at all able, please go, you will not be disappointed.
Alongside the tour’s main stage performance, the Company brings Swan Lake Dreams, a performance project giving talented dance students from the cities along the tour to perform an adapted version in full costume sharing the stage with Birmingham Royal Ballet Company dancers performing three lead roles and accompanied by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire orchestra. First Steps: Swan Lake is an hour-long interactive show performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers and full orchestra. This special performance includes a storyteller who narrates and introduces characters to the children in the audience. Please see the website for all details of performances and to book.
Swan Lake will be in Southampton until 1 February. For more performance and tour information please visit brb.org.uk and for tickets visit the Mayflower Theatre box office or their website mayflower.org.uk.