(3.5 / 5)
Ladies, have you ever encountered a situation when engaged in a spot of on-line dating that, with great anticipation, you arrange to meet for the first time, your Mr. Rights, a suave, slim, handsome, rich, witty, successful, etc. guy…and someone like me turns up?
Well, if you have, you may well feel mightily let down, a feeling that I had when viewing the Russian National Ballet production of “Swan Lake”. “Russian National Ballet” – grandiose title, so they must be good. National – state endorsement in a country that prides itself with its plethora of ballet companies and academies, that, no other country can rival for it’s quality in depth – well you can imagine my sense of anticipation.
Oh dear! Wrong! Not the Russian National Ballet performing – just producing.
Wrong! Not a state endorsed ballet company but a family run business.
Wrong. Not a Russian Company at all, but one from Belarus. That used to be the annoying country to the south of Russia, that you needed a visa to visit or travel through, as I found out to my cost hen planning a rail journey from London to Moscow. Nowadays you can have 30 days to sample the delights of this country, not exactly on the tourist map.
The Russian National Ballet’s mission, is to keep the tradition of classical Russian ballet alive, “by bringing various ballet theatres from Russia and Belarus who embrace the traditional nature of this refined genre.
I know this, because it says so in the programme. This also informed me that I was watching the “State Academic Theatre of Belarus”, a fact that I didn’t realise until I returned home after the performance. For many in the audience, who didn’t buy a programme, they most probably still believe that they had seen the “Russian National Ballet” in action.
I googled the “State Academic Theatre of Belarus” but couldn’t find any reference to an institution by that name. There is one with a similar title in capital Minsk, so I guess this must be the home of the corps de ballet on display.
Having kind of sorted all that out, I turn to the ballet itself. There are many versions of “Swan Lake” that have evolved from its first performance by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4th March 1877. This version is the shortest swanning in at the two-hour mark, which includes a 20 minute interval.
After a rather flat (literally) start the company gradually got into gear. I wondered whether their rather inauspicious start was down to the gruelling schedule that the company have endured since commencing their UK tour on 3rd October. By the time they reach Brecon, five weeks later, they had already performed at 31 venues in all countries of Great Britain. A punishing schedule by any standards, but for one as physically demanding on the body as ballet, it is almost suicidal. They must really love their Art because, unless you are a principal dancer or a soloist, you don’t enter this profession to become rich.
Another consideration, is that the dancers have to get used to the dynamics of the stage they are performing at, because they would have had little, if any chance to rehearse.
I won’t bore you with the familiar story of white and black swans, wizards and handsome prince Siegfried., whose a little too fond of hunting for my liking.l
A you would expect, choreography follows the traditional work of Imperial Russian Ballet (later became the Kirov) Master Marius Petipa and his collaborator Lev Ivanov. Tchaikovsky’s beautiful and well known score was piped in. Unfortunately, I found the recording to be a little uninteresting – solid but not the most romantic of interpretations that I have heard.
Odette was played by Elena Germanovich in this performance. A leading soloist of the Company, she performed with the elegance of beauty required of her. Her pa de deuxs with Prince Siegfried, (Alexander Misiyuk) were competently performed and balanced.
Misiyuk’s solos possessed both power and exquisitely accurate timing to the music.
The standout performer for me was Yoshiki Kosaka’s exceptionally springy performance as the jester. He displayed a lot of humour and charm in his performance and effortlessly became the audience’s favourite.
Decent support is provided by the corps de ballet, and a very charming rendition of the “Dace of the Little Swans” by Sofia Krivushkina, Mayko Ono, Alexandra Derevianchuk and Ksenia Meleshko proved a highlight in Act 2.
It’s a solid production if not a brilliant one, and has a couple of outstanding performance. The audience left happy with what they had seen if not appreciating who they were actually watching.