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Swan Lake/The Sleeping Beauty

Published Tuesday 16 January 2007 at 12:05 by Richard Edmonds

Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty certainly guarantee SPBT healthy houses with appreciative audiences on both evenings danced in a Symphony Hall where the austerities of the concert platform are magically transformed by a fairytale proscenium arch made of well designed gauzes which present both ballets comfortably.

Swan Lake has always been the jewel in SPBT’s crown, although romantics may be disappointed in the happy ending, but that’s the Russian way. Good conquers evil in the last battle and Siegfried and Odette live happily ever after.

No matter, SPBT has an incomparable white act with Irina Kolesnikova, its hard-working star, giving a dream performance as Odette/Odile. Kolesnikova has that marvellous Russian soul, which makes her Odette a creature of tragic proportions. Is there any other ballerina dancing the role today who can equal her?

When she allows Dimitry Akulinin’s Siegfried to finally offer her his love, the atmosphere is electrifying and when Kolesnikova appears later as the sensuously evil Odile, her head crested with rubies, she makes light of those terrifying spins, which have seen off many a lesser ballerina. Naturally the audience respond with well deserved cheers.

Dimitry Akulinin’s Siefgried is manly cavalier and technically excellent, but he lacks Kolesnikova’s poetic wonder. Mention must also be made of Vladimir Ippolitov who adds art, great personality and physical strengths to the normally unremarkable first act pas de trois.

The company carries several ballets in an attractive classical repertoire and this kind of material requires a dance personnel who can make their own contributions as queens, jesters, swans or courtiers, based on accepted techniques and a common store of knowledge acquired over the years.

Certainly a sense of drama comes high on the list of requirements. Yet there is often a sense of indifference from some dancers around the stage. There are a few hammy reactions to Carabosse or Von Rothbart as evil is evoked, but it is no more than that and in The Sleeping Beauty, the royals look bored when the Divertissements are making their own dainty contribution to Aurora’s wedding.

A drama coach is badly needed to heighten the company’s unquestionable dancing skills. Achieve that and we might get something more than looks of bland disinterest when Andrei Yakhnyuk’s splendid Bluebird achieves lift-off and impresses us with his technical delivery.

Akulinin is impressive as Florimund in the Sleeping Beauty hunting scene; a lovely sequence with russet tones in the forest colours and marvellous 18th-century hunting dress.

Production information

Symphony Hall, Birmingham, January 12-13, then touring until February 10

Konstantin Tachkin
St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre
Irina Kolesnikova, Dimitry Akulinin, Andrei Yakhnyuk, Vladimir Ippolitov, Lilya Akhmetshina
Running times:
2hrs 45mins/3hrs 15mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014