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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Swan Lake Review | The Lowry | Manchester

Blurring the lines of its surreal world with a smoke-filled vision that veils the Lowry audience besides Odette’s moonlit lake, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s (BRB) enchanting production will leave onlookers spellbound by the classic retelling of the fable.

Awaiting her true love to rescue her from a wizard’s spell, Odette roams the Earth as a swan, captivating observers with her ethereal beauty. Wandering with her large ensemble, BRB’s boundless staging of the princess’s lair engulfs the audience in the midst of the dark moonlit lake she is fated to live upon. An impassioned performance from Momoko Hirata as Odette/Odile brings the gentle swan queen to life, but BRB’s retelling of Tchaikovsky's timeless fairy tale is an overall, glamorously dreamy production. Orchestrated by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the impactful score beats between flights of fancy, festivities and fight sequences, to capture the ambience, together with the show’s spectacular costumes and set.

Peter Wright’s production brings a richness to the classic, enter all into the shimmering, haunting environment of enchanted creatures and ritualistic displays. Tchaikovsky’s 1876 model is preserved with a touch of new technology implemented to enact the echo of Odette in Act 3, which is projected onto the stage. Layering the story with rich scenery, divine costumes and balancing the beauty with the darkness of the enchanted wood, Wright pulls the full force of the company to carry the habitually individualistic show.

Odette is suspended in time accompanied by her bevy of swans, developing the intrigue of Prince Siegfried (César Moralesis) from across the lake. But before being illuminated by Odette’s soulful, lakeside performance, Moralesis takes centre stage, rousing his guests with dramatic jetés for the first act of the production. Highlighting his wooing skills with a dizzying array of leaps and technical detail, the Prince performs for the audience with the promise of being married off and crowned King. Act 1 allows the male ensemble to show off their fancy footwork as they perform as the women’s entourage and friends of the Prince. Later, seduced by various suitresses and their entourages, the productions ensemble scenes flourish beside the lead’s elegant solos. Taking the audience from inside the eccentric parties of the Prince’s castle to the wide open and whimsical realm of the swan princess.

The intricate choreography carries the BRB’s production of Swan Lake, presenting the pas de quatre under a shadowy forest, where the four swans sync their intricate, mirrored sequence of steps. While BRB entwines precision and poise with sumptuous sets and costumes, the audience are given a first-class rendition of the beloved and renowned classic. Hirata strong presence and detailed performance allows her to sore as the Swan Princess, switching between the fierce and passionate Odette and Odile. On the edge of evil and elegance, Hirata’s feathered tutu and grace offer a punishing display of fouettés spins to capture the full magic of Swan Lake’s animal-like creation.

The immense and enthralling show is the perfect foray into classical ballet, filled with wonder and momentum. Swan Lake is always a joy to watch but BRB’s production will leave you captivated until its final, heart-breaking moments.


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