Swan Lake @ Coliseum, London

performed by
Anette Delgado, Elier Bourzac, Felix Rodriguez, Elizabeth Sosa, Analucia Prado, Ivis Diaz, Camilo Ramos, Osiel Gounod, Yadil Suarez, Yonah Acosta, Gretel Morejon, Lissi Baez, Alfredo Ibanez, Ariadna Suarez, Masiel Alonso, Yanela Pinera, Amaya Rodriguez, Maureen Gil, Mercedes Piedra, Amanda Fuentes, Leandro Perez, Jesse Dominguez, Odoray Prats, Ivette Gonzalez, Yanier Gomez, Alejandro Virelles, Dani Hernandez, Victoria Prada, Carolina Garcia, Marize Fumero, Jorge Villazon, Jaciel GomezCuban panache pervades every aspect of Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s production of Swan Lake, from the choreography and colourful costumes, through to the spirit of the dancers.

This production was choreographed in 1948 by Alicia Alonso, the peerless Cuban dancer and founder of the BNC. Working from Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanovs 1895 blueprint for the ballet, she developed her own version which, amongst other things, foreshortens the final act by making it an epilogue to the preceding drama.

Although Alonsos choreography inevitably shapes the dancing, it was in itself a response to a particular Cuban approach to movement. As a generally young cast attack the steps today, this unique style seems as much in evidence now as it was then.
Not that their enthusiasm is always a positive thing. The festivities of Act One are presented with a generally appropriate exuberance, but on occasions it leads dancers to overstretch their limbs as they move. Paradoxically, it is often joyful dancing that most demands a clean and precise approach, and so when the movements exceed the correct parameters it mars the overall effect.

But equally surprising is the fact that the more lyrical dancing required of the corps de ballet in Act Two is able to withstand greater dissent. At times, not all of the ballerinas arms and hands are tilted at exactly the same angle, but the trade-off between this and each performer possessing their own individual presence and flare is a good one.

Elier Bourzac is a charming Prince Siegfried. If in Act Two his expression of permanent wonder makes him appear excessively passive in the proceedings, his movements are always silky smooth and his leaps grow breathtakingly larger as the evening continues and he gains in confidence.

More intriguing still is the performance of Anette Delgado as both the swan-princess Odette and the evil Odile. She appears quite stocky for an Odette, but she puts her physique to good use, her bold limb movements generating their own brand of elegance as they cut through space.

She still seems more suited to playing the flashy Odette, and you are unlikely ever to see an Act Three pas de deux quite like this one. As she dances with Siegfried, she is unbelievably sensuous, her long limbs appearing to stretch from here to eternity. When she consults Rothbart on how to proceed she stretches one leg vertically upwards, whilst the only problem with her 32 fouetts is that there is never any sense of danger that she might make the slightest of errors.

More generally, Act Three is the moment when everything comes right, and the Spanish dance is particularly finely executed. Less grand than Petipas version, it involves just two dancers who employ some amazingly lyrical actions as they move uninhibited across the stage.

Elsewhere, there are some lovely touches. When Prince Siegfried first appears, the crowd fall to their feet bowing their garlands of flowers in his honour. Similarly, when Act One initially gives way to Act Two the crowd are not dismissed, but simply change their style of movement to suit the new melancholic mood. This Swan Lake may not be flawless, but many surprises are contained within it, and infinitely more of them are pleasant than otherwise.

Casts may vary over the run. Carlos Acosta plays Prince Siegfried on 30 March and 1 April. The Ballet Nacional de Cubas Magia de la Danza will be performed, 6-11 April.

Read the musicOM review of Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s Magia de la Danza

No related posts found...