Being different can work wonders- this production is living proof of that
I love ballet, it is not my area of expertise(that's opera) but from seeing my first one, Swan Lake, at 6, it has delighted and fascinated me. To this day, Swan Lake continues to be one of my favourites, and I just loved this production. Matthew Bourne is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, however I find him very clever and creative. And that is precisely the case here. It is different of course, but it does work wonderfully because unlike some other productions in either opera and ballet who do things differently Bourne doesn't forget to make things fun. The opening scene sets the scene entertainingly and beautifully and the finale is powerfully heart-breaking. The choreography is a big part of the production's success, it is full of clever touches and does them in a fluid way. There is a lot of elegance in the Pas-De-Deux, and everything is performed with passion and commitment rather than that cold feeling I have found with some ballet productions. The sets are over-sized but pretty to look at emphasising in the first scene the court's stuffiness and later on the passion and want of freedom from when we first encounter the swans. And the costumes are also very nice, with the leather worn by the Stranger a nice touch.
What Bourne does with the traditional story is like a re-thinking but the emotional impact of the story remains intact. What he does with his re-thinking is as bold, fresh and imaginative as it was 14 years ago. I will always look up to Tchaikovsky's score as a masterpiece, and it is performed with the power and pathos you'd expect from an orchestra performing this score. Every sense of character and nuance is here. The conducting never lets anything get dull. The dancing itself is impeccable, and the performances likewise. Nina Goldmann is one of those benevolent yet authoritative mother figures and Maddeline Brennan's social-climbing girlfriend is charming and very funny. Dominic North has the finesse in his movements and allows the character of the Prince to grow. But in terms of performances, the star is Richard Winsor, as the Swan he is tender and quite mysterious and as the Stranger he is seductive and erotic in a straight-forward sort of way. All in all, a wonderful production that takes this timeless ballet and makes it its own in a creative way.
10/10 Bethany Cox
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