July 19, 2013

Swan Lake

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Thursday was the opening night of their 2013 production of Swan Lake and we are so lucky that they are touring the country (venues and dates below).

I always love going to the St James theatre as it has just beauty and history. It is one of the few venues that people dress to attend. As usual the staff were excellent, the food and wine over priced and the theatre itself so warm that I was happy to emerge into the winter air. Do dress up when you go but make sure you are wearing layers that can easily be removed.

Swan Lake is too well known for there to be spoilers.This is the not the first time that the Royal New Zealand Ballet has performed it, they first did excerpts in 1953. Nor is it the first time they have done so to Russell Kerr's choreography. The costuming, lighting and set help to make each time unique - it is wonderful what can be created with so little, the ripples of the lake from lights. I was amused that the pattern on the Prince's costume during the latter half of the show kept bringing to mind the Cheshire Cat.

You can't argue with Tchaikovsky's music, so beautiful and recognisable. I did find however, and I feel quite blasphemous writing this, that parts did drag. The villagers dance could be cut to one third, the court and swan dances cut each in half. I sighed audibly to the annoyance of those around me. I apologise, I feel guilty, it was so beautiful but I want storyline progression as well.

The principal ballerina was able to bend her body into almost impossible shapes with the help of her prince. Her movements as the black swan were so definitive as set apart completely from her other role. Perhaps the most overlooked character is the jester who not only dances very well but has to forget his ingrained training to move in ways that a ballet dancer has been taught not to. The loudest applause of the evening was reserved for the orchestra and then (with the added stamping of feet) the choreographer, Russell Kerr.

Other birthday celebrations include on open day tomorrow and recordings of performances at the Film Archive. And if you get in quick you can see the dancers warm up on stage tonight for just a gold coin donation.

Swan Lake (prices vary)

Wellington - St James Theatre, 18-27 July 2013
Dunedin - Regent Theatre, 30 July 2013
Christchurch - CBS Arena, 3 August 2013
Invercargill - Civic Theatre, 8 - 9 August 2013
Takapuna - Bruce Mason Centre, 17 - 18 August 2013
Auckland - The Civic, 21 - 25 August 2013
Palmerston North - Regent on Broadway, 28 August 2013
Napier - Napier Municipal Theatre, 31 August - 1 September 2013

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most pathetic reviews I have ever read. It makes not mention of the numerous times when applause stopped the performance, especially for the principal dancers. Perhaps a reviewer is needed who is both interested in ballet as well as 'story line'. His attention span was far exceeded by that of my nine and ten year old granddaughters.