Battle of Swan Lake


Londoners have two versions of Swan Lake to take their fancy this summer.  The Bolshoi at the Royal Opera House and Swedish Fredrick Rydman’s version at the Coliseum.  They could not be more different.

The Bolshoi of course draw the crowds.  Every performance is sold out.  And the queues for returns has been starting at 10am when the box office opens.  Such a famous ballet company doing Swan Lake is going to be a draw.  But I wouldn’t say I loved it.  The dancing was phenomenal.  But it just didn’t flow.  At times I was confused as to how the scenes connected.  This was my first time seeing Swan Lake and although I had an idea of the story I just couldn’t get why the Prince was one moment at the Royal Court and the next at a lake.  Even my pal who has seen Swan Lake many times said it didn’t quite make sense, especially for a novice like myself.  But the magic of the Opera House (is it wrong to be so mesmerised by that curtain??) and the aura of the Russians certainly keeps you enthralled.  The constant bowing might irritate a little but it’s all par for the course.

Now cut to Swan Lake: Reloaded.  A more modern take in story and in dance of Swan Lake.  The starkness of the orchestra pit gave the first indication that this would be a very different performance.  That and the polite warning from the box office staff this was contemporary.  It was electric from the get go.  The swans were in fact prostitutes with a bit of a drug problem.  The prince was a party boy with a lust for coke.  It mixed the traditional ballet and music of Swan Lake with contemporary dance and house music.  And it worked.  The story was gripping at times.  I had my hands to my faced and gasped in the final scenes.  I, along with many others, were on our feet at the end.  It was just brilliant.

I look forward to seeing Matthew Bourne’s version at Sadler’s Wells this coming winter.

If you want to see Swan Lake I would definitely opt for the Swedish version: a performance with more clout.  Buy tickets online or call at the box office.

Read the reviews of the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake: Telegraph, Guardian

Read the reviews of Fredrik Rydman’s Swan Lake: Evening Standard, Time Out

Sarah Southern

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