St Petersburg Ballet presents Swan Lake review The Playhouse Theatre Edinburgh Thursday 1st September


St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake  at The Playhouse Theatre is one event that no ballet lover is going to want to miss, but the tour is only stopping off in Edinburgh for three nights as part of an extensive world touring programme.

Starring Russian born Irina Kolesnikova in the principal roles of white swan Odette and black swan Odile this is the classical styled Swan Lake that every one loves – Prince Siegfried, Von Rothbart, a wonderful court jester, white tutus, four cygnets arm in arm and  wonderful mirrored choreography. This is a very traditional Swan Lake and the original first performed version of the story as choreographed by Julius Reisinger in 1877.  It does of course also retain the classic Marlis Petipa choreography that we all love and expect to see.

St Petersburg Ballet is a company known for performing the classic ballets in a very traditional style and many of the dancers like Irina Kolesnikova have been trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy which is renowned for its teaching of classical technique.  This is a performance of one of the great Russian classical ballets performed in classic traditional ballet style.

Irina Kolesnikova is outstanding in her dual roles and, like all great performers in these roles, manages somehow to be a completely different person as she dances  the good and evil roles of  Odette and Odile displaying not only great technical skills of balance, flexibility and strength, but also great emotions in the totally contrasting characters.   Irina Kolesnikova dancing on stage is the image that every little girl who dreams of being a ballerina will have in their mind, and the dance schools in town I think are going to be very busy with new recruits after they see this performance.

This production of Swan Lake from St Petersburg ballet is a large one.  Over fifty members of the company are touring including an orchestra, and there are some spectacular sets and costumes too.  The midnight moonlit lake scenes are mostly painted backgrounds, but they are really good examples of what a good set designer can do and lit wonderfully when needed to give the setting the look that we all expect.

The most lavish of all the sets though is the grand ball in the palace where all the foreign dances are performed and where we of course meet Odile.  Bright colours of red and gold are everywhere giving a taste of the lavish luxury that was the Imperial Court of the day.

There are some great performances here from other dancers too – Prince Siegfried (Yuri Mirov) of course, Von Rothbart (Dmitry Akulinin) and a wonderful Court Jester (Andrei Fedorkov). Anrei Fedorkov was on particularly scene stealing form here with leaps of dazzling height and technical ability as the Jester linking us through many elements of the Swan Lake story line. A great dancer who brough a lot of warmth and gentle humour to this story in his role as the jester.

St Petersburg Ballet’s Swan Lake is a chance to catch this classic as it should be performed, and with Irina Kolesnikova superb in the iconic principal role it is a treat to watch.

Of course, the one thing that you can never forget with Swan Lake is the beautiful music of  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  This ballet is simply a perfect marriage of music, story and choreography.

The only little downside of the show for me was for some reason only the dancers in the final scene getting their public bows.  This was a wonderful production by the whole company and everyone deserved to be there.

Review by Tom King

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