Review: Swan Lake by the American Ballet Theatre
Of the many ballets that’ve been created throughout history, Swan Lake is perhaps one of the most recognizable and well-loved ones, with its classic theme of love conquering all, set in a realm of magic and betrayal at every corner. And of the many versions, the American Ballet Theatre’s one remains one of the most definitive.
ABT is professional dance theatre in the highest degree, with impeccable coordination between the corps de ballet dancers and moving in complete unison in large group scenes, moving smoothly and gracefully like an actual game of swans. Every move was exciting, and each landing more pronounced and prominent with their audible sounds, keeping audience members’ attention consistently on the onstage action.
Playing the coveted and difficult dual roles of Odette and Odile was ABT principal dancer Hee Seo. Hee manages to portray both roles with grace and skill, bringing out each characters’ emotions in her precise movements and expressions. Fully committed to her jumps and leaps, all her moves were absolutely on pointe, and captivated with her strong chemistry with Corey Stearns’ portrayal of Prince Siegfried. Meanwhile, as Benno, Calvin Royal III does an excellent job of flitting around the stage, strength and poise evident in his physicality, while Thomas Forster and James Whiteside’s turns as the evil sorcerer and Rothbart were terrifying, with flawless, ferocious spins across the stage.
Equipped with a glorious set design by Zack Brown, audiences are immediately transported to the magical world inhabited by these ballerinas from the moment the curtains are drawn. From a glorious castle to realistic recreations of dusky night skies, each visually stunning backdrop is immersive and immensely well constructed. Zack Brown’s costumes well match the atmosphere in each scene, in particular giving a real sense of grandeur and royalty during Act III’s Great Hall scene, as dancers glide across the stage adorned in red and gold. Conducted by Ormsby Wilkins, the orchestra sounded full, with a strong trumpet accompaniment from Erik Tan, and helped bring out the mood in each scene.
As the final scene opens on Odette and Siegfried ascending to the heavens amidst a backdrop of a brilliant sun and moon, one is left utterly convinced of the power of love and how it can vanquish even the most nefarious of opponents. Captivating with their onstage chemistry, brilliant production design and incomparable choreography, ABT’s Swan Lake is a classy delight from start to finish, and will make you believe in the magic of ballet when you see it with your own eyes.
Performance attended 16/3/18
Swan Lake plays at the Esplanade Theatre from 15th – 18th March. Tickets available from Esplanade