MESMERISING, seamless and enchanting were all words which sprang to mind during the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake.
It was my first time at the ballet, and where better to start than with the famous love story of Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette.
In the company’s 25th year, they have pulled out all the stops, with a 50-strong orchestra in the form of Birmingham’s Royal Ballet Sinfonia playing Tchaikovsky’s famous score.
The classic production opens to the scene of an imposing court mourning the death of Prince Siegfried’s father. A lengthy first act, full of heavy period costume and with a stage full of dancers, introduces us to the Prince Siegfried, played by the talented Tyrone Singleton.
In the second act we meet the beautiful Odette, played by Celine Gittens. The two lead characters work together beautifully, with the romance of the story never leaving the stage. By the moonlit lake Siegfried witnesses the transformation of the the swan into Odette, where he discovers she has been enchanted by an evil magician.
The spell can only be broken if someone who has never loved before swears an oath of undying love. If Siegfried breaks his vow the princess will remain a swan forever.
Throughout the performance there are some beautiful group dances – particularly of the graceful swans – including difficult manouvres which left the audience holding their breath more than once. But all moves are executed with the elegance synonymous with a ballet, with not a en pointe toe out of place.
The rest of the production shows more of the magician’s sorcery, after he bewitches his own daughter to look like Odette at a dance where the Prince is set to find a suitor.
A desperate Odette appears at the window where she sees Siegfried ask for the imposter’s hand in marriage, meaning she will be forever be a swan.
Gitten’s dancing throughout is flawless, showing the despair of her situation along with the passion between her and the male lead. Her swan-like elegance is enthralling, accompanied beautifully by her companions, who have also been transformed due to the spell.
The tragic ending of the tale sees Odette and Siegfried decide they cannot be apart and will die together.
As the music reached a roaring crescendo the audience were on the edge of their seats, raising into a much-deserved standing ovation as it ended.
The Royal Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake was enrapturing and passionate, with undertones of desperation which left you rooting for the ill-fated couple.
With this as my first ballet, I can say with no uncertainty I will see another, in the hope they can be just as faultless as the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Tickets are priced from £19. Visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com to book.