Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake

Disclaimer: I distinctly remembering having watched 3 others "Swan Lake" performances before: New York, Tokyo and a foreign staging in Singapore and also vaguely recalling at least once in Paris I believe.

Up front, purists will be disappointed by Yury Grigorovich's version of this seminal, classic ballet. Secondly, the touring company is made up of mainly "young talented artists", so expectations should be adjusted. With that in mind, or if you read the programme before the show started which I did not, perhaps one would have been more entertained than I was. I have nothing against directors putting their own stamps on others' work, but sometimes, too radical a change may not be beneficial nor befitting the wondrous score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. And the whole last scene is proof of that. I have no doubt about the dramatic/narrative effectiveness of the new ending, but the build-up to that - the new choreography and new story - just did not convey the necessary emotional weight that the music demands. However, the orchestra was also not doing any justice to Tchaikovsky's masterpiece. There was not enough gravitas in their playing and rhythms were also occasionally slightly off, but most importantly, they did not sound like they knew the intricacies of the work well enough to translate across. In addition, we have the "young, talented" principals of Ekaterina Shipulina and Ruslan Skvortsov playing the main leads, and their youth was evident. Skvortsov, as Prince Siegfried, did not possess the masculine strength and grace as expected; Shipulina, as Odette-Odile, on the other hand had sufficient grace but technically she will definitely need a few more years before she can totally enthral an audience. Her Odette and Odile were clearly defined with Odile being a more standout role for her where she presented the strength, the determination and precision that was lacking in the overtly softer and gentler Odette. As a couple, their chemistry was not strong enough to elicit a strong reaction to the finale. That and their un-enchanting pas des deux made their story rather detached. In all, it was still a good introduction for those uninitiated to classical ballet performances, but it is neither brilliant nor memorable for those expecting Russian Bolshoi Ballet.

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