It’s hard to imagine that Swan Lake was a flop when it debuted in 1877.
Now it is considered to be one of the greatest ballets, with an iconic score by Tchaikovsky and a story that has captured the public imagination.
And now it is coming to The Mayflower in Southampton courtesy of Birmingham Royal Ballet.
By a moonlit lake, a grieving prince witnesses the transformation of a swan into a beautiful princess. Compelled by an evil spell to spend her days in the form of a bird, she can only be saved by the power of love.
Swan Lake is also a litmus test for dancers, with demanding choreography that requires the best technique.
Among the company for this production is Laura Purkiss from Eastleigh, who is looking forward to performing on home turf.
She says: ‘I have been with the company for 17 years, and I have never performed anywhere near my home – the closest has been London. This will be the first time some of my family have seen me dance.’
In this production, Laura plays a courtesan who comforts the prince after his father’s death, and also one of the four cygnets.
She says: ‘Our production is a dark, Gothic take on the Swan Lake story. It’s a classical ballet so you’ve got to be so disciplined. There isn’t a part where you don’t sweat; it’s so strenuous.’
Tackling such a famous ballet isn’t an easy task, but Laura says it will still be recognisably a Birmingham Royal Balletproduction.
‘There are certain parts of Swan Lake that always stay the same, no matter what version you see. Even Matthew Bourne’s all-male Swan Lake had the four cygnets, even though they are usually played by women.
‘Our production is more traditional, but it still has its own stamp because the choreography was devised by our Director Laureate Peter Wright. It is one of our heritage pieces – some of the costumes that are worn are over 25 years old.’