REVIEW: Swan Lake at Chichester Festival Theatre

Moscow City Ballet performing Swan Lake
Moscow City Ballet performing Swan Lake
Mark Hamill. Credit: Wiki Commons

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Swan Lake
Chichester Festival Theatre

Like many of the enduring ballets, Swan Lake is known for its scale – an epic fantasy romance on a lavishly-dressed stage filled with dancers.

For the Moscow City Ballet, the Chichester Festival Theatre offered a rare opportunity to perform in more intimate surroundings, which proved both a blessing and a curse.

It was thrilling to see moments like Liliya Orekhova’s spinning marathon as the seductive black swan Odile up close and personal. But this also meant that any flaws were magnified, such as a failed lift in the first act and a stumble by one of the corps de ballet during the synchronised swan dance in act two.

It worked the most against hulking leading man Talgat Kozhabaev, whose heavy footwork and soulless delivery were plain for all to see.

He seemed to come frighteningly close to landing on a swan in one lunge – the only reminder of how cramped the staging could’ve been.

Credit to the Hungarian Sinfonietta Orchestra for bringing Tchaikovsky to life, and for the dancers playing the cygnets and swans for the effortless unison of their dancing.

Some stage transitions were also clunky, but watching Odette glide across the lake to one of the most iconic classical songs made up for it.

Those who gave Orekhova a standing ovation appeared to regret it, but it was ultimately well-deserved for the star who outshone the imperfections around her.

The Moscow City Ballet will be performing Sleeping Beauty until Sunday.