Review of Swan Lake – The performance is being staged at NCPA’s Jamshed Bhabha Auditorium

Theatre

By Manju Sampat

Currently our city is being enthralled by the Royal Russian Ballet’s live staging of the immortal classical ballet, “Swan Lake”. This show has been brought to us courtesy Navrasa Duende, a venture from Energo India, that is involved in the promotion of arts and entertainment. The performance is being staged at NCPA’s Jamshed Bhabha Auditorium and is slated to run here till March 25th, before it moves to other Indian cities.

“Swan Lake” , is a timeless story of good versus evil. Apart from the fascinating story told in dance, it is its haunting music composed by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, that makes Swan Lake so spectacular. He was one of the leading exponents of Romanticism in his time, and Tchaikovsky’s score of Swan Lake is like a symphony that captures the full range of human emotions, from melancholy to ecstasy, hope to despair and from terror to tenderness. In this quintessential classical ballet, the composer has beautifully married dance with music and the original choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, have added the theatrical. Vladimir Troschenko, the choreographer of this production, has strictly stuck to the original and created around it. Anatoliy Kazatskiy is the ballet director, and together they have ensured that we the audience, are treated to a dazzling production of “Swan Lake” as they have brought their own creativity and sensibility to this show. 

The story of Swan Lake is a bewitching tale. It beckons us into the world of Odette, the beautiful Swan Princess and her prince Siegfried. Legend has it that the evil genius Von Rothbart, turned young girls into swans. They were doomed to live as swans during the day and turned into humans at night. Prince Siegfried has been asked to choose a bride by his parents. However when he goes hunting one evening with his friends Wolfgang and Benno, he is about to target his cross bow at a Swan, when she is transformed into a beautiful woman, Odette. Siegfried falls hopelessly in love with her and to mark their love, they perform the most graceful and sublime Pas de Deuxs and various other ballet moves like the pirouettes, the jetes, the leaps and twirls. Von Rothbart sees the two together and vows to keep them apart, for if someone who has never been in love before, marries her, Odette can forever remain a woman. So at the Palace ball, where Siegfried has to choose his bride, Rothbart gets his daughter Odile to impersonate Odette. Thinking he is choosing his true love, Siegfried chooses the impersonator and Odette sees this through the window. She runs back to the lake to tell her fellow swans about the betrayal. On realising his mistake Siegfried follows her and tries to convince her of his love. Will Evil win or will true love survive. Happily for us, in this version Kazatskiy wants to highlight the message of good winning over evil, unlike in the original ending.

Prima ballerina Kifyak Olga as Odette and Tkachuk Mykhailo as Siegfried looked and danced beautifully together. Both managed to build on Tchaikovsky’s music with their lyrical dancing and do it full justice, especially to the thundering explosions of the finale. Kifyak is magical when she dances as Odette and as Odile, she skilfully makes a subtle change of expression and movement to show the change of character. She is flawless and gives everything of herself, while dancing these twin roles that portray good and evil. When you see two dancers react to each other, as these two principal dancers do, and when you see them rise to a higher level in their dancing, it is truly sublime! Their dancing is pure poetry in motion! The other principal dancers, especially Aleksy Abramenko as Von Rothbart and Denis Tarasov as the court jester, are excellent.

The sets and traditional costumes also do full justice to this marvellous production. The only drawback is that there is no live orchestra, and instead there is recorded music. Do yourself a favour and go see this beautiful ballet performed by the legendary Royal Russian Ballet Company from the Ukraine. After all how often do we get to see a full length ballet in India!

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