Shanghai Ballet’s Swan Lake (Regent) – theatre review

Forty-eight beautiful swans gracefully gliding across the stage in unison in Melbourne’s premier theatre is simply awe-inspiring … overwhelming (I was all but brought to tears). This is undoubtedly one of the most majestic balletic productions I have been privileged to witness. I plead with you to do all you can to secure a ticket to the extraordinary collaboration between the Shanghai Ballet and the renowned British choreographer Derek Deane (former artistic director of the English National Ballet).

The discipline and sensitivity of the Corps De Ballet in the astounding interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic is a showcase of the highest artistic merit, evoking raw emotion. The leads are faultless, Deane’s vision inspirational.

From purity to showmanship, the mood in this love story between Prince Siegfried and the Swan Princess Odetta, torn apart by the evil sorcerer Rothbart, shifts from troubled to celebratory. Along with 80 agile dancers, the lavish production features the most breathtaking costumes (450 in all) and 10 tonnes of scenery. Whichever way you look at it, it is simply rich and redolent.

The music is divine and the Shanghai Ballet’s commitment to its craft superlative. One is left to reflect upon how much work must have gone into perfecting some of the arduous routines, which are made to look all but effortless.

If you have never been fortunate enough to witness ballet, it would be hard to find anything more fulfilling than such an astonishing version of Swan Lake. If you are an aficianado, no matter how many times you may have seen Swan Lake before, you, too, will be captivated. More is the pity that it is only playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne until 24th April.

Alex First

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