15 January 2015


It may be early on in the year, but one of the best nights of 2015 will be an evening spent at the Coliseum watching the English National Ballet's flawless production of Swan Lake.  Arguably the most famous ballet and the favourite for many (myself included), the enchanting story of the innocent white swan Odette and the evil black swan Odile performed to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's beautiful musical score played by a full orchestra is an unforgettable piece of theatre.

Swan Lake English National Ballet at the Coliseum

Based on an old Russian folk tale, Princess Odette is kidnapped by a wicked sorcerer who puts her under a spell - she's transformed into a swan and condemned to a life under his control at the lakeside, where a Prince discovers her and falls in love.  The lead role of Odette/ Odile is performed by the multi-tasking Artistic Director/ Lead Principal of the ENB, Tamara Rojo, whose dramatic, expressive portrayal brought tears to my eyes. The supremely elegant ballerina held the attention of the audience with every move, especially the famous 32 fouett├ęs in the black swan pas de deux in Act III.  The role of Prince Siegfried went to the strong, muscular, virtuoso Alban Lendorf from the Royal Danish Ballet.  This production has a number of international guest artists, and the company itself has 65 dancers from 26 countries.

Swan Lake English National Ballet at the Coliseum

The English National Ballet Philharmonic features some of the country's best musicians, who gave a beautiful performance of the Swan Lake overture - a piece of music I'm so obsessed with I routinely listen to the 2 hours 27 minute full suite on repeat.  Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky's first ballet and not initially a success at its Bolshoi Theatre premiere in Moscow in 1877 - in fact, he turned his back on ballet music for 13 years after that, finally returning to dance with the Nutcracker in 1892. Thank goodness he did.

The romantic, soaring score is perfectly matched with Derek Deane's moving choreography.  Beautiful costumes, glorious dancing and exquisite music: it's the perfect version of the best ballet. Praise can't come much higher than that.

Swan Lake at the Coliseum, 7-18 Jan 15 | St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES

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