Review: Swan Lake, Moscow City Ballet, Brighton Theatre Royal

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BOUQUETS to Brighton’s Theatre Royal which regularly punches above its weight in attracting internationally-renowned performances to delight its Sussex-wide audience.

The latest coup has been the Moscow City Ballet which pitched up in the City to perform Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty last week to rapturous receptions.

These Russian dancers are gymnasts in tights and tutus but they can act too – the stagecraft of Colin Firth grafted onto the athleticism of the Cirque du Soleil.

Producer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov’s Swan Lake was a joy. No matter how often you’ve seen the ballet, the City Ballet company overlaid the stark story of love promised, thwarted and lost with a wallop of emotional resonance.

The timing of the ballet’s arrival in Brighton chimed with the controversy sparked by Natalie Portman’s

soon-to-be-released performance in Black Swan, where a prima ballerina is rebuked by her director for lacking the depth to convince as Odile – the black swan of the title. Much has been made of the dietary rigours professional dancers must endure and one Moscow Corps de Ballet member looked uncomfortably anorexic; that aside she could dance.

Odette Odile was played by Liliya Orekhova and while she was on stage you just could not look at anyone else. She achieved 32 effortless consecutive pirouettes, much to the satisfaction of the dance teachers in the front row who were busy counting. Talgat Kozhabaev was a tall, smouldering Prince Siegfried, dark hair flicked over cheekbones as sharp as a filleting knife. For me one of the finest performances of the night was Valeriy Kravtsov’s Jester – again, a scene stealer capable of crisp accuracy, gymnastic entrechats and an endearing acting style.

Daniil Orlov played Von Rothbart with the amoral evil intent of Vlad the Impaler and the Siegfried’s four, foreign, would-be brides sparked across the stage adding pzazz to a Grand Ball that was already a kaleidoscope of colour.

This performance of Swan Lake was moving, spellbinding and passionately delivered. The Moscow City Ballet’s next series of performances takes place at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley. Meanwhile Brighton catches its breath.

Our reviewer Susan King saw Swan Lake on Friday January 28.