REVIEW: Swan Lake at The Mayflower, Southampton

Despite being a relative newcomer to ballet, I thought I had Swan Lake sussed.

Thursday, 28th January 2016, 6:00 am
Birmingham Royal Ballet perform Swan Lake at The Mayflower until Saturday

My preconceptions were based on the hummable score by Tchaikovsky, the iconic image of ‘swans’ dancing on a lake of dry ice – and Natalie Portman peeling her skin off in ballet thriller Black Swan.

And while there was thankfully none of the latter, the first two were satisfied in this production by Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The music by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia was by turns delicate and rousing, and there was a collective sigh of admiration when the curtain raised on the Mayflower stage, covered in a blanket of fog which rolled off the ballet dancers and down into the orchestra pit.

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The corps de ballet performed choreography of Busby Berkeley-esque detail to the highest standard, and Yasuo Atsuji as Prince Siegfried and Nao Sakuma as Odette and her shadow-image Odile had the crowd in bouts of spontaneous applause with scores of consecutive spins and jumps.

There was also a few things that surprised me about Swan Lake.

The main one was the swan to stage time ratio; of the four acts, only two were in the titular setting.

The rest were in a courtly environment, with costumes and Gothic staging to match.

The other surprise was the sheer amount of bows taken by the company at the end of the ballet.

But the applause kept coming, and so it should have.

Until Saturday.