The round giveth and the round taketh away!
The best part of Derek Deane’s Swan Lake in the round is the white acts. It was visually stunning. It makes one almost regret that they have seen this ballet so often before. The familiarity with the ballet takes away some the amazing effect of seeing so many beautifully turned out dancers. I think that the first timers to ballet must have found the visual treat mesmerising. The best bit for me was the long sad Corp scene at the start of the Act 4. When all the Swans exit leaving Odette and Siegfried alone on the vast stage the effect was immensely poignant.
Of course with so many dancers on the stage there was not much scope for much dancing. I would say it is more spectacle then ballet. I miss the ebb and flow of the NYCB Swan Lake. But overall it was extremely good!
Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the other Acts. Part of the problems is the fact as the lights needed to be turned up I could see the all the theatre. I could not really immerse my self in the ballet. But worse still was the fact the dancers had to dance facing 3 sides of the round. With backs turned away from each other they could never keep in synchronisation. It looked very ragged and under-rehearsed. Unavoidable perhaps but it did not help that there were few lines of the stage to guide the dancers! Moreover their movements were restricted to prevent collisions. In this respect the round inhibited the dancing.
But the smaller dances and the PDD were very effective on the big stage, With more space to dance in the dancing looked more spectacular then on a normal stage. Patrick Armand turning jumps which used the entire round was very exciting.
Overall I thought that the design and costumes were acceptable. I would like to see more colourful and varied costumes for some of the corp. But it is still preferable to the Royal Ballet’s production.
I think Tamara Rojo has the potential to be a great Odette/ Odile. But I thought she was a bit too young for the role. She did not have the imperious presence to be convincing as the queen. As the black Swan she looked rather sweet! However there were many fine points – most noticeable was her graceful and poetic steps as the white Swan. She also stopped the house with her 32 fouettes. She finished them off with a double and a smooth transfer of weight to her other leg. The rest of the dancing was adequate but this company has along way to go to challenge the Royal Ballet for supremacy in this country.
So overall a most satisfying night at the ballet. I suspect many of the audience here were first timers. Words like “stunning, amazing, awesome” reverberated though out the building after the performance. So I must grudgingly admit that Derek Deane has done a great service to ballet by mounting this performance.