Swan Lake

St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre
The Helix, Dublin

December 12, 2006





The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre presented their elegant version of Swan Lake at the Helix and brought more than 100 years of history to life. Watching a Russian ballet company perform the ballet provides the quintessential dance experience where the smallest gestures are so articulately performed they expand to fill the stage.

First created in 1895, Swan Lake premiered at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, and ever since has been one of the most coveted roles for a ballerina to dance. Irina Kolesnikova performed the lead role of Odette/Odile as if she had received advice from all those who had come before her.

Her regal characterisation and exquisite technique made her an utterly calm, confident Odette during Act I, transforming into a magnificent, vibrant Odile in Act II. Most remarkable was the way she used her arms like wings, softly fluttering when leading her fellow swans, quivering when she met the prince, and becoming limp and lifeless when her love looked to be in danger. She led the other swans in an utterly believable portrayal.

The corps wore expressionless faces and adapted their own detailed gestures until all traces of humanness disappeared. Their preening was made even more real because the dancers' Vaganova technique promotes the kind of fluid arm movements, supple backs and upper bodies associated with a swan.

They paid such precise attention to their winged interpretations that as they flocked together at the lake during the famous second scene in Act I, they looked to be proudly expressing their heritage.

Dmitri Akalinin offered a natural and compelling portrayal of Prince Seigfried, following his true love while battling his nemesis, the awful Von Rothbart. As Von Rothbart, Dymchic Saykeev possessed a strange likeability that was both menacing and intriguing.

With powerful leaps and dazzling turns, Von Rothbart tried to keep the swan away from her prince, but in the end - which is not always the case in other companies' version of the ballet - love endured. The love story comprised the heart of the ballet, but as my young companion and I agreed, the swans were by far the best part.

© The Irish Times