review - December 2013

A mesmerizing modern piece of dance theatre

Whilst I will freely admit that I am a terrible dancer (I tried ballet as a child but was always the badly timed tyke seen at the back of the stage dropping her crown or falling over her feet…cute at 5 years old, not so much now!) I am always in great awe whilst watching dance pieces, and nobody has ever inspired me to move in the way that Matthew Bourne’s work does. I fell in love with his new age take on dance tradition when I saw Edward Scissor hands in 2005 so I was over the moon when given the chance to see the much famed and somewhat iconic Swan Lake. I think the time for pointing out the controversial migration from the “classic” Tchaikovsky ballet is over; this is a different show. Get over it!

This show is famed for its male swans, a deviation from the notion that the swans are intended to be feminine. The herd of swans are intimidating and intriguing, as I imagine Bourne intended. The way in which they work together on stage is truly mesmeriszing and Jonathan Ollivier proves exceptional as chief swan/ The Stranger. The way these men move…it is godly!

Whilst the production is undoubtedly characterized by the powerful male gaggle of severe swans, it is worth adding that the female performers in the show do an equally fantastic job. Most pleasing of all was Kerry Biggin as The Girlfriend who managed to provide pretty much all of the comic relief in the show with true performing abilities.

Unlike some critics reviewing this piece, you may have guessed I am far from a trained dancer, but so what? Neither, I imagine, are around 95% of the audience but together we could appreciate the other worldly talent pouring out from the vast stage at Sadler’s Wells. The precision of movement, the strength of bodies and the ability to convey so much meaning without uttering a word…it was spectacular. Whatever your background, whatever your language or culture, I truly feel this is a show that everybody will fall in love with. I mean, haven’t we all at one point felt trapped and envisaged making our ultimate bid for freedom?

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is both playful and provocative and manages to communicate to the audience on a whole new level. It is rare I find myself giving a standing ovation, but like the majority of the audience I found myself on my feet beaming during the curtain call. This show is an absolute must see!

12 December 2013, Sadler's Wells