Carl makes it a good night for Vienna

Swan Lake

Vienna Festival Ballet

Lichfield Garrick

Swan Lake

Lichfield Garrick Theatre

*****

The Vienna Festival Ballet brought Tchaikovsky's popular, classical ballet Swan Lake to Lichfield this week and the Garrick audience was enchanted with artistic director, Peter Mallek's delightful interpretation. 

The performance was first class, the whole corps are talented and beautiful to watch, the principals outstanding, the score light-hearted and unexpectedly familiar all through.  Costumes are traditional and gorgeous.  

Along the way we are treated to a princely solo from Phil King (Prince Siegfried) and a clever pas de trois from Yoshiko Kabuta, Toloyo Tanimoto Jequier and Carl Hale in Act 1.  Both of which were well received.  Hale is outstanding as he dances the jester with athletic ability, great lines and comedic forms and much humour. 

In Act 2 we see the cygnets' amazing combination, brilliantly syncronised considering the differing heights of the dancers, and the pas de deux danced by Siegfried and Odette (Melanie Cox) is haunting, they move softly as one with hardly a sound. Cox's pointe work is excruciatingly beautiful and received a lengthy appreciative applause. 

In 3 the scene is colourful, and the dancing vibrant.  The Spanish dancers slip in a fleeting Gancho or two, Hale's solo is outstanding and the Russian dolly-like, Czardas steal the show with their excellent synchronization and expert interpretation of the music.  There is a truly exquisite pas de deux with the well-known, breathtaking 32 fouett├ęs from Cox.   

Act 4 opens with a feast for the eyes, a dreamily lit forest with the swans at rest on the moonlit lake. We are treated to a well-choreographed dance off between Siegfried and the suitably menacing Rothbart Simon Jaquier).  A pleasant surprise is had by all, in the final moments we see Siegfried and Odette looking towards a happy-ever-after rather than the traditional lovers' death scene. 

My over-riding memories of the performance are the beautiful, expressive arms of the swans and, in the final Act, all swans raised en pointe achingly displaying their affection for, and protecting, their sad swan queen. 

The performance closed to hearty applause and appropriate booing for the villain of the piece. 

Congratulations to the VFB who celebrates it's 30th anniversary this year.  Here's to the next 30. To 20-11-10.

Lynda Ford

 

View from the other side of the lake . .

***

PERHAPS the last thing audiences might expect from this company's visit is to see a boy from the Black Country in a key role.

But Dudley's Carl Hale gives a stunning performance in his favourite part as the Jester, first on stage as the curtain rises and taking part in several dances after that.

Hale shows a keen appreciation of humour as well as a grasp of the skills involved, and he throws in a few spectacular cartwheels, too.

For this talented company, dancing to recordings of Tchaikovsky's beautiful music cannot be as inspiring as working with a live orchestra, but no doubt the cost factor is responsible for that.

The quality of the dancing, however, is superb throughout, with Phil King (Prince Siegfried) and Melanie Cox (Odette) enjoying exquisite moments in the story of a group of maidens transformed into swans by wicked sorcerer Baron Rothbart (Simon Jequier).

Act 3 produces outstanding performances from the three Princesses, played by Amy Fussell, Emily Hufton and Jenny Morrison, as they dance with the Prince who rejects them in favour of his love for the beautiful Odette.

Swan Lake, the world's most popular ballet, runs to Saturday night 20.11.20

Paul Marston 

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