Stunning Swan Lake was tour de force
It is somewhat gratifying that in this day and age of reality TV and celebrity hype classical ballet can still draw an audience. Maybe there is hope yet for mankind! Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is probably one of the most famous ballets of all time - and it is certainly one of the most romantic - the story of the Prince and his doomed love affair with a girl trapped in the form of a swan has passion and tragedy in equal measure.
It is somewhat gratifying that in this day and age of reality TV and celebrity hype classical ballet can still draw an audience. Maybe there is hope yet for mankind!
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is probably one of the most famous ballets of all time - and it is certainly one of the most romantic - the story of the Prince and his doomed love affair with a girl trapped in the form of a swan has passion and tragedy in equal measure.
This company formed in 1981 has a well deserved reputation from previous UK tours and they certainly did not disappoint the capacity crowd at the Regent.
Unbelievably, they are performing three separate ballets over this weekend but there was nothing in their performance to suggest a lack of focus.
From the stunning grace and agility of the Principles to the discipline of the corps de ballet, this production was a tour de force.
Under the able direction of Sergi Bobrov and with stunning costumes the story was told with such power and dexterity that the dancers made it look effortless.
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It was a pleasure to watch such a display of control over the human form as the ballerinas became swans in the lake scene and the soloists Svtlana Dodonova and Kirill Litvinenko played out their doomed love affair amongst them.
To the trained eye it was probably not perfect - and even I noticed a couple of minor fluffs - but the whole was equal to the sum of the parts and the overall effect was one of exquisite movement within a tragic scenario.
It was also a real treat to have a full, live orchestra under the direction of Anatoly Tchepurnoi accompanying the dancers - making the most of the haunting music of the great composer.
This production will stay with me for some time.
The Russian State Ballet of Siberia
Romeo and Juliet
Saturday March 1
The Russian State Ballet of Siberia gave a spellbinding performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Ipswich Regent on Saturday.
With the audience soaking up the atmosphere created by lavish costumes and lively backdrops and showing its appreciation of well-executed performances with enthusiastic applause as each scene edged closer to the final, tragic climax.
The music by Sergei Prokofiev was masterfully performed by the Russian State Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Anatoly Tchepurnoi.
Going to the performance with my 10-year-old daughter and her friend, I was slightly apprehensive about how the story of Romeo and Juliet could be made captivating enough through dance to hold their attention. But I need not have worried.
The interpretation by 45-year-old artistic director Sergei Bobrov, himself a former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer, had them on the edge of their seats from beginning to end, gasping at the antics of the street scenes and the impossibly high leaps of Romeo, marvelling at the glitter and exoticism of some of the costumes, feeling for the delicate and very pretty Juliet, and gripped by the tragedy as it unfolded in the final scenes.
The ballet, based on one of William Shakespeare's best-known plays, opens in the market place of Verona, where lively movement, colourful costumes and whimsical masks set the scene for the spring carnival. But the rivalry between the noble houses of Capulet and Montague is soon in the picture as the dashing but impetuous Mercutio (Arkady Zinov) ridicules their feud in a show played out by him and his friends.
A skirmish develops with Lord Capulet's nephew Tybalt, before we get our first sighting of the wistful Romeo with a posy of flowers, sensitively performed by Alexander Butrimovich.
Death lurks throughout the first act but the mood becomes increasingly dark and sinister in the second half of the performance, with the heralds of death ever-present in their black costumes and skull-like make-up - testimony to the skill and imagination of set and costume designer Dmitry Tcherbadzhi. The chilling dance in which they transport the slain Mercutio's soul away is notable for its imaginative choreography. This is a forerunner to the moving performances of the deaths of the lovers themselves, and the final tableau of Romeo and Juliet lying together on their death-bed is quite a tear-jerker!
We all came away from the ballet feeling privileged to have seen something extra-special at the Regent, and hoping the company will return for another tour soon. It really should not be missed.