SWAN LAKE | Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

There ain’t no ballet like a Bolshoi ballet. It’s been true for over a hundred years and it’s still true now. Deeply traditional in approach, but you’ll believe a man can fly, and swans can die.

Denis Rodkin as The Prince Siegfried is a complete revelation: he doesn’t literally fly, but he leaps and falls with such style and softness that you could be fooled. The emotion in his every step makes the tragic finale genuinely moving. Alyona Kovalyova plays Odette (the white swan) and Odile (the black swan) expertly, and her physicality for both is so different that it is almost impossible to believe it’s the same person.

Less than half of the ballet is devoted to Siegfried’s story of being fooled into falling in love with the black swan by The Evil Genius (Artemy Belyakov). Mostly, we see guests at Siegfried’s birthday, knighting ceremony and social dance, and of course the mystically dancing swans of the moonlit lake. Rather than shy away from this, Yuri Grigorovich’s classic choreography (2001) constantly allows for soloists to glide front-centre stage and bow, inviting us into the piece to jointly acknowledge their breathtaking feats.

The orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre has had plenty of practice — they have played Swan Lake nearly two thousand times since 1877 — making Tchaikovsky’s iconic score come alive with Russian blood, and Pavel Klinichev’s baton, featuring jaw-dropping solos from violin (Inna Lee) and cello (Boris Lifanovsky) in particular. Russians have always been world-leaders in ballet, and if this current cast is anything to go by, that’s here to stay.

Visit the Bolshoi Theatre website for details of all upcoming performances.

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