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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake | The Lowry | Manchester

The award-winning company New Adventures has a collection of modern classics under its wing. It is the world’s longest running ballet production, offering timeless cinematic pieces that carry young audiences into the theatre with an appreciation for the silent array of talent on show.

The unforgettable performances in Swan Lake have been recaptured in director/choreographer Matthew Bourne’s vision that shelves the traditional tutu and pointe shoes for a modernises revision of the fairy-tale. Bourne’s masculine imaginings collide with the whimsical tale of the swan princess, Odette who spends her days on a lake as a swan and her nights in human form. Grounded by the customs of the past, the mesmerising imagery that Bourne’s project presents are as seductive and smooth as its enticing original. Its large, atmospheric production engulfs its audience into its world. With luscious sets and costumes designed by Lez Bkotherston, this stunning retelling is a haunting and unique addition to the standard repertory.

Cinematic in its production, the looming sets and coated scenes move seamlessly to bring the Prince’s day-dreamy appeal directly to its audience. Bourne’s original 1995 production has been reworked for 2018 and includes revised choreography, new designs and lighting to further expand on the Prince’s idyllic world. Sparingly using projections to mix reality with fantasy, the show beautifully drifts between the Prince’s mansion, parties and the swan lake in a juggling of relatable and mystical surroundings.

Dominic North interjects the ballets challenging choreography with a compelling performance as the downtrodden and loveless Prince. Alongside the large company of dancers, the layered storytelling forces the dancers to spin several plates at once. Including a mini ballet within the ballet, the story continues to play with gender roles, allowing its female ballerinas to capture the audience with their own distinctive characters. On-going into the second act, with eye patches and afros, the ballerina’s backstories are as fleshed out and powerful as the swans of the piece.

The magnitude of the set’s merge with the ensemble throughout the production. In its beautiful lake sequence, lead swan played by Will Bozier floats onto the set to stand starkly against the backlit night sky. Surrounded by mist, the impeccably presented swans are captured as a forceful and feathered equal to the traditional female group.

Swan Lake is a treasured story, updated by an innovative and emotive production that dilutes nothing from its traditional storytelling. Bourne’s sense of style is gloriously lavish including tongue in cheek moments that ensures audiences will always keep the immortal memory of Swan Lake in their mind.

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