Russian Ballet Star Irina Kolesnikova Makes For An Enchanting, If Traditional, Swan

Swan Lake, English National Opera ★★★★☆

Tiffany Pritchard
By Tiffany Pritchard Last edited 28 months ago
Russian Ballet Star Irina Kolesnikova Makes For An Enchanting, If Traditional, Swan Swan Lake, English National Opera 4

As part of the ENO's Irina Kolesnikova London Season, this rendition of Swan Lake with — naturally — the Russian star as its lead, is a reliable, sometimes exceptional, bit of theatre.  

Whether you've seen the world-famous ballet or not, you're sure to be in awe of its luxuriant sets, its tapestry of white gleaming tutus 'swanning' around in delicate, brush-stroked lines and Kolesnikova's enchanting presence that almost quite literally breathes life into the spell-ridden swan princess Odette.  

A collection of other highly lauded dancers fill the remaining leads. Depending on the show, the Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov guest stars as the forlorn Prince Siegfried, as do the Mariinsky Ballet's Kimin Kim and Bolshoi Theatre member Denis Rodkin (on hand for the press night). Look out, too, for Serguei Fedorkov as the jester, whose fast-spinning jumps and turns are jaw-droppingly pristine.

Together, the all-star team re-enact its classic story of good versus evil; man versus nature; prince saves the princess. While Rodkin's dramatic body and facial expressions add a welcome extra level of emotion, it's Kolesnikova that steals the show.

With her long, willowy arms, supple back arches and lithe, yet perfectly controlled pirouettes as the white swan (Odette), followed in quick succession by the robust, high-spirited sequences as the black swan (Odile), the ballerina — who is also mother to a one year-old daughter — is truly a spectacle to behold.

Though she is not a member of Russia's famed dance companies — the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky — she has climbed the ranks of the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, now in its 21st year, garnering a bevy of awards and additional lead roles in the likes of Giselle and Sleeping Beauty.

Sticking close to the 1895 revival that premiered in St Petersburg at the Mariinsky, this adaptation is more on the traditional side, something that fans of the more modernised versions — including Matthew Bourne's variation at Sadler's Wells — may not be as enthralled with.

Casting a critical eye, at times there is heavy footing and off-kilter synchronisation. Considering its lofty credentials, precision would seem a guarantee. Still, it's mostly there, particularly Tchaikovsky's tantalising music composition that is beautifully reincarnated by the St Petersburg Ballet Orchestra.  

Swan Lake is at the ENO, St Martin's Lane WC2, until 22 August. Tickets from £50-£85. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

Irina Kolesnikova and co will also perform in La Bayadere at the ENO August 22 and 23.  

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SL Irina Kolesnikova as Odette. Photo: Nina Alovert LR
SL Irina Kolesnikova as Odette. Photo: Nina Alovert LR

Last Updated 19 August 2015