Review: Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake

By March 22, 2016


emma kauldhar

All photographs credited to Emma Kauldhar

Northern Ballet’s nuanced and classic take on Swan Lake, often referred to as the most popular and well-known ballet, is full of elegant charm and moving beauty. The familiar tale follows protagonist Anthony (played by Tobias Batley) as he grows up in the shadow of his tragic childhood memories. Northern Ballet Sinfonia illuminates Tchaikovsky’s original score and provides a varied and dramatic accompaniment.

Caught in between imagination and reality, this interpretation of Swan Lake explores the fluidity between the two as Anthony tries to make sense of his feelings for his friends and reconcile with the past.

swan-lake-martha-leebolt-giuliano-contadini-01Interestingly, Anthony’s love triangle is more exposed than in previous adaptations, which adds another layer of complexity and freshness to the performance. A particular notable performance goes to Nicola Gervasi who plays Simon, Anthony’s best friend, and also competitor for his affections with Odilia. His character moves with grace and nuance as he flirts with Anthony and teases out the romance in their friendship. However, it’s not all bittersweet courting and heart-breaking memories as the ballet is punctuated with intervals of more jovial and lively scenes. The opening, for example, sees Anthony and his college friends leap around the stage, playfully catapulting a football to each other and encapsulating the optimistic spirit of youth perfectly.

Much attention to detail has been given to the costumes and the delicately feathered swans are able to move graciously in their minimalist petticoats.  A huge flowing sheet hangs above them as they pirouette in formation, giving an ethereal quality to the lake scenes. It’s a simple piece of set but it’s all that is needed as the focus is all on the fluttering swans.  Another interesting aspect of staging is in the painting scene where Anthony is found to be projecting his inner thoughts and desires onto the back wall of his bedroom. It results in a rather emotionally intense scene for close viewing.

Northern Ballet shed new light on their imaginative and inventive approach to a classic in their recent show, creating a very commendable performance indeed.

Swan Lake is coming to Norwich Theatre Royal and Milton Keynes Theatre, until 30th April.

Natasha Lyons