Monday, 20 June 2011
Coyne-Operated Culture: Swan Lake
I have been hit by ballet-fever ever since I saw Black Swan in January this year, now don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to ballet, I had lessons from age 8 to 14 and my Nana took me to see Swan Lake in Covent Garden when I was 12. I also saw Romeo and Juliet not so long ago, but being at Uni I just kind of forgot that I loved it. Then I saw Black Swan and I fell in love again, so when my Mum told me about the Bolshoi Ballet broadcasting performances from their 2010-11 in cinemas across the world I knew I had to try and go.
York Picturehouse was the nearest cinema for us to go to to see Swan Lake, and for £30 I thought the price was really reasonable, it's a really great and affordable way to watch ballet, especially when your other half doesn't even know if he likes ballet! I didn't mind spending £15 on him seeing Swan Lake with me, especially when afterwards he said he really enjoyed it.
The performance includes some interviews and backstage footage, which to us seemed a bit unnecessary, but the ballet was absolutely beautiful and more than made up for watching interviews translated into different languages in the interval. Now, Swan Lake is a pretty simple story (typical of any ballet, really) about a Prince and a girl (who is a swan) who fall in love, but then he declares his eternal love for her double (um, also a swan) and they end up dying/heartbroken (this tends to change dependent on which company you see perform). Yes, from an outsiders perspective it does sound pretty crazy due to a lot of loving going on between a human and a were-swan, but it does result in absolutely stunning costumes and some gorgeous dancing.
We saw Mariya Aleksandrova as Odette/Odil (the white and black swans) and Ruslan Skvortsov as Prince Seigfried, and I have to say I was completely blown away by Mariya, she encapsulated both characters perfectly and her Black Swan Coda was spot on. I loved the costumes and the set was very simple and quite modern (I'm not sure my Nana would have liked it) but I thought that it gave the dancers a lot of space and really let them show off without an intricate set taking away from that. Tchaikovsky's music gives me goosebumps anyway, and this was no exception, if you've seen Black Swan you will also notice how much of the original composition is used to soundtrack the film, although I am sure the instrumentation is different to give the film an altogether darker tone.
I had an absolutely lovely time watching Swan Lake yesterday, and I'd highly recommend going if you're interested in ballet, as for not much more than the price of a cinema ticket you can see a world class ballet company perform.
Images are not mine and are not necessarily the Bolshoi Ballet. They are from various sources.