Dance: Turkey shoot on Swan Lake

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When the first version of Northern Ballet's Swan Lake opened in 1992 it enjoyed some of the worst reviews imaginable. Critics queued up to put the boot into Christopher Gable's production which had been conceived in the belief that the boring old classic lacked (you guessed it) "relevance".

In order to inject a little of the human interest so conspicuously lacking from the version danced for the previous century, Gable (right) set the ballet in the centre of a military coup, made Siegfried a drunk, Odile a lap-dancer and had his squadron of grungy swan maidens stabbed in the back in a nice bloodthirsty finale.

In order to highlight the happening, modern nature of his treatment, Gable not only scaled down Tchaikovsky's score (always necessary for smaller companies with smaller orchestras), but also had it freely adapted to his new storyboard plus odd, trendy touches like saxophones to bring the whole thing bang up to date.

This is all very well in theory - many choreographers have successfully taken larger liberties with the scenario - but in practice, the result was a poorly choreographed, sensationalist piece. But the public (that's you) loved it and continued to do so through its various revised versions. Gable's belief in total theatre had struck a chord, not with the regular dance-goers (who tend to like their Swan Lakes to keep faith with the original), but with the sort of omnivorous-but-casual theatregoer who likes to do a show occasionally.

With designs by the reliable Lez Brotherston (who would later design Adventures in Motion Pictures Swan Lake) the production is attractive to look at. As John Percival drily remarked in The Times: ''If this is your idea of Swan Lake, then this is the Swan Lake for you''.

Northern Ballet Theatre, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (01227 787787) 26-30 May 7.30pm, matinees Thur and Sat 2pm

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