In their London Coliseum debut, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo re-interpret Swan Lake. Jean-Christophe Maillot's LAC takes Tchaikovsky's famous score and the basic premise of good vs bad, but transforms it into something that is confusing, overly-exuberant and at times rather sinister.
There is, as usual, a Prince who falls in love with a White Swan before mistakenly declaring his love to the evil Black Swan. But similarities to the original narrative end here. The role usually taken by magician Von Rothbart becomes a female figure — Her Majesty of the Night — who seems bent on seducing the King. And the Black Swan's deception isn't left unpunished - in LAC, the character is strangled to death by the Prince's mother.
Maillot's choreography is mixed. There are a lot of strange pelvic thrusts, lasso-ing actions and banging of pointe shoes against the floor. Group scenes in particular have excessively energetic and vigorous movements, with constant throws, lifts and slides overwhelming Tchaikovsky's melodic score. The central pas de deux (pictured) between White Swan Anja Behrend and Prince Stephan Bourgond does, however, offer a rare moment of creativity, musicality and tenderness.
There are some interesting ideas here and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo's dancers have an impressive sense of athleticism and force in their dancing, but LAC left us cold.
LAC is at the London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane WC2, until 12 April. Tickets priced £15-£55 are available via the Coliseum website. Londonist received a complimentary ticket to review this show.