DANCE Swan Lake Royal Albert Hall, London
Saturday 31 May 1997
But I could have told you all that without seeing the show. The question is not whether ENB's Swan Lake succeeds as a conventional production (which is obviously impossible) but whether it works for the venue and audience for which it was designed (which it does).
The Albert Hall has its own performance logic: a solo Sinatra can spellbind; military bands can thrill the blood; but medium-sized spectacle is less sure of its effects. Derek Deane's choreography is certainly most successful when he is handling large ensembles, which he does with most style and skill in the white acts. The house grew dark, the stage glowed with Patrick Woodroffe's ghostly blue light, the floor was eerily carpeted with dry ice, and gradually the stage filled with a monstrous regiment of wildfowl. Of the 60 women on show only 27 are regular members of the Olivier Award- winning company. The hired help (whose availability for work is for the most part unsurprising) were cunningly deployed so that the core corps (as it were) did the tricky stuff while the other ranks did a bit of synchronised flapping on the sidelines. The result was rather magnificent.
Meanwhile, at the heart of this feathered phalanx nestled what for many punters was the Sole Purpose of Visit. Altynai Asylmuratova dances Odette/ Odile with a grandeur and intelligence that reminds us that there is rather more to this ballet than white tutus and dry ice. While our eyes are upon her we believe absolutely in the strange tale of the tragic princess trapped forever in the plumage of a swan. Her phrasing is miraculous and she coped superbly with the need to twist and turn the choreography to give everyone a tantalising glimpse of her artistry. Her sexy, wicked and resourceful Odile captivated Roberto Bolle's handsome Siegfried, leaving him oblivious to the real Odette perched 45-feet up in the organ pipes. At the climax to the ballroom pas de deux a shudder of triumph ran across her torso and a thrill of pleasure ran through the audience.
Ballet directors are obsessed with the idea of new audiences: Christopher Gable says Northern Ballet has found one; Anthony Dowell is going to Hammersmith to look for one. Derek Deane has even got the Princess of Wales talking about this strange tribe of ballet virgins waiting to be seduced by the right marketing mix. To judge from Thursday's excitable response and the murmur of satisfaction emanating from the departing crowd, I think some of Deane's converts could well be on for more of the same. Whether that turns out to be conventional ballet or merely the arena variety remains to be seen.
To 11 June (0171-589 8212)
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest