HomeDanceRussian State Ballet of Siberia: Swan Lake

Russian State Ballet of Siberia: Swan Lake


Swan Lake is perhaps the most famous and recognisable ballet worldwide. Unbelievably, the ballet was first performed in 1877 but was not well-received at the time! Fortunately, the ballet, which is set to Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly beautiful music, has since been recognised as a masterpiece.

There certainly was a great deal of anticipation at Ipswich Regent from a packed audience of all ages. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia are one of Russia’s foremost ballet companies and we were also treated to a live orchestra, something which is essential to do the incredible music justice.

After a musical overture to set the scene, the ballet opens properly with Prince Siegfried
who is celebrating his birthday by enjoying a drink with his friends and dancing – nothing
really changes over the centuries! This Prince is tall, elegant and an exceptionally talented
dancer who owns the stage right from the beginning of the ballet. He jumps effortlessly and seems to defy gravity by hanging in the air. The corps de ballet perform some jolly folk dances and the mood is bright. However, the Queen Mother arrives with huge pomp and circumstance, and she tells her son that it is time for him to get married. He must choose a
bride at the forthcoming ball. The Prince is understandably upset and leaves with his close
friend Benno, after they spot a flock of swans flying past.

We arrive at a moonlit lake, cleverly projected onto a backdrop at the Regent. The ethereal
beauty of Swan Lake really does shines through in this traditional production. The dancers in the corps de ballet are stunning in their white tutus and Odette makes her entrance for the first time. Odette is the Swan Queen, a beautiful princess who has been transformed into a white swan by the evil sorcerer Rothbart.

The dancer playing Odette at Ipswich Regent was the epitome of elegance and grace – amazingly clean dance technique, swan-like arms and absolutely believable in terms of character. Odette and Siegfried dance a tender duet, with the whole audience seeming to hold their breath, transfixed by the extraordinary beauty of the movement and story. The Prince tells Odette that he has fallen in love with her, and he swears eternal fidelity.

The second Act opens with the royal ball with the Prince’s prospective brides in attendance
and they are ready to pounce! Each bride comes from a different country and is given a
chance to shine in a solo. We move from Russia to Italy, but the audience favourite was
clearly the Spanish princess in her stunning flamenco dress, accompanied by two matadors.

She flirted with the audience and gave us breath-takingly high extensions, huge backbends, and a superbly sensual quality of movement. Nonetheless, Siegfried is not interested and does not want to dance with his suitors.

Suddenly, Rothbart swirls in and there is a late entry to the ball – Odile, the Black Swan has arrived! What makes Swan Lake unique in the ballet world is that the roles of Odette and Odile are always danced by the same ballerina who must therefore show incredible versatility. Would the dancer who gave us such poetry of movement in Act I be able to transform into the evil enchantress, Odile? There was no need to worry as Odile astonished with her dazzling technique, hard beauty, and cunning deception.

There is a famous point in this act where Odile has to perform 32 turns in a row, a tour de force that most dancers fear. This talented ballerina made this accomplishment look easy, and she thoroughly deserved the rapturous applause she received from the audience. Siegfried is hypnotised and confused; he believes that he has been reunited with his true love and swears undying love to Odile. The music rises to a crescendo and Odette appears in the window as a vision. The Prince realises that he has been deceived and is distraught.

We return to the lake where Odette is dancing in despair with her swans. Odette is broken-
hearted and feels betrayed. Siegfried arrives looking for his love, but Rothbart is also on the scene with evil intent. He wants to separate the lovers, but true love will not be denied.

The audience clearly loved this production which was exquisitely delivered in every way –
from the music, to the acting but most of all the breath-taking beauty of the dance. A
fantastic escape into a fairy-tale world full of brilliant dancers, classic choreography, and
stunning music, where true love conquers all.