SWAN LAKE @ GRAND
OPERA HOUSE, BELFAST
The world-famous Peter Schaufuss Ballet present a boldy updated version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake – part of the company’s award-winning Tchaikovsky Trilogy – with movements cut back, gaudy costumes ditched in favour of cool, modern minimalism and pas de deux that convey raunch and grand passion – some enacted on the floor as opposed to en pointe. This is classical ballet revised for a contemporary sensibility, full of corps de ballet routines that capture all the angst and ecstasy of sex and thwarted love. It will not appeal to purists expecting moonlit lakes and rippling movements of swans as we follow the story of Prince Siegfried who falls in love with Odette, turned into a swan by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Later in the piece the white swan’s doppleganger, Odile, clad in black and exuding voluptuousness, seduces Siegfried. When he realises his mistake he and Odette, according to the traditional story, plunge to their deaths rather than enduring a life in which they cannot be together. Here the story is hugely syncopated and amended so that this narrative is not as clearly outlined as in the classical approach: Von Rothbart appears as a female in black, Siegfried seems distinctly metrosexual and the world of the swans is depicted as a sensual existence of promiscuity, bodies entwined in a semi-lit hinterland. Odile is seen in positions that are perhaps too graphic and the swan world seems to have acquired some behorned gimps who wouldn’t have looked out of place in Pulp Fiction.
But for all the problematic revisions and cuts, there was energy in the whole, imagination in the choreography and chemistry between the principle dancers whose bodies became instruments of passion slowly dissolving into decadence and despair.
The Peter Schaufuss Ballet present Romeo & Juliet tonight (September 20) and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake tomorrow at the Grand Opera House, Belfast. Visit www.goh.co.uk.