Swan Lake in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall
Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic ballet Swan Lake is re-created by Derek Deane via the English National Ballet and performed at the Royal Albert Hall this June. With 120 dancers, Swan Lake in-the-round takes place in a huge arena rather resembling an ice rink. For those seated in the stalls, to be just a few feet away from the dancers is quite a striking novelty. In keeping with the current theatrical trend of blurring the lines between audience and stage, many of the performers enter and depart through the aisles, flurrying to and fro among the viewers.
Most of us have seen Swan Lake at least once – the experience of this much beloved, oft performed classic is frequently a rite of passage for children. However, Swan Lake in-the-round is unique in style, making a shift from conventional stage to central arena, with the number of swans increased to 60. The result is spectacular.
True love triumphs over evil in this lovely rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ballet. It is the story of Prince Siegfried and his love for Odette, a young woman bewitched by the man/bird hybrid sorcerer Rothbart, who has transformed her into a swan, with only a few hours each night in human form. Cuban guest dancer Osiel Gouneo is a compelling Prince Siegfried, whose solo allegro – with strong jumps, solid landings and splendid grands jetés – and his adagio pas de deux with Odette are particularly remarkable. Alina Cojocaru performs well as a delicate, lovely Odette; James Streeter is magnificent as the sinister Rothbart, who threateningly flies around the stage with enormous wings. The 60 elegant swans are impeccable, particularly graceful and immaculate in the Dance of the Cygnets. Likewise the Hungarian, Russian, Spanish and Neapolitan national dances are splendid, with lavish costumes characteristic throughout. The performances vastly improve after the pas de trois and waltzes of the first scene, which are good, but seem to lack vigour.
A possible drawback of this production is that the acoustics in the Royal Albert Hall in this case do not seem to fully project the orchestral sound of the English National Ballet Philharmonic, which, although admirable, could likely have been more impressive.
As a whole, Swan Lake in-the-round conveys Tchaikovsky’s romantic classic with poignant magnificence; the ballet is emotionally evocative, visually stunning, with excellent choreography and performances.
Swan Lake in-the-round is on at the Royal Albert Hall from 1st until 12th June 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for the show here: