Review: Swan Lake On Ice @ Royal Albert Hall

By Sam Smith Last edited 79 months ago
Review: Swan Lake On Ice @ Royal Albert Hall

Do Tchaikovsky and ice skating mix? Not always, as the rhythms that work so well for ballet cannot always be transferred to the new genre.

But when a troupe is as skilled as the Imperial Ice Stars, they can ensure that the transition works nine times out of ten. From this exceptionally talented cast we witness death defying leaps, the slickest of quadruple turns, and lifts and holds that would seem to defy the laws of gravity.

Those well acquainted with the original Swan Lake may find the rearrangement of much of the music disconcerting. In the most famous dances the basic melodies are excessively repeated while other sections are omitted altogether, and dances from Act One appear in Act Three and vice versa. On the other hand, the use of music not heard in many ballet versions (few performances use everything that Tchaikovsky wrote) is delightfully refreshing.

The performances can hardly be faulted, both from a skating perspective and in terms of characterisation. Andrey Penkin as the hero Prince Siegfried proves an immensely psychological dancer, and Bogdan Berezenko as his friend Benno combines technical precision with panache. Olena Pyatash as the Black Swan proves a wondrously elegant mover, Olga Sharutenko as the White Swan cuts gracefully through space, while Vadim Yarkov by virtue of his flair sprinkles magic into Baron von Rothbart’s evil ways.

The plot alterations are surprisingly successful. There is something strangely moving about seeing the Black Swan defy her father and voluntarily give up Siegfried when she realises he truly loves another, while turning the final ‘showdown’ largely into an ensemble piece has real resonance. Ballet purists may wish to give this production a wide berth, but for anyone looking for top rate ice skating or just a good night out, Swan Lake on Ice comes highly recommended.

Until 20 May at the Royal Albert Hall. For tickets click here. Author received a complimentary ticket and programme from the Target Media and Communications Group.  

Photo: Ice skating lifts don’t come better than this: Rothbart, the White Swan and the Black Swan.

Last Updated 19 May 2012