While Moscow Ballet’s Vladimir Troschenko delivers his elegant Swan Lake to 61 cities in Europe…here is a fab review from the 2007 North American tour…

The fast-moving production of Swan Lake was elegant, exciting and breathtakingly beautiful.

Swan Lake Soloists Anna Dorosh and Maksim Chepik

Soloists and the troupe presented a youthful — most of the dancers are in their mid-20s — and dynamic show for the near sell-out audience.

This version of the world’s most famous ballet is staged by artistic director Vladimir Troschenko, a former partner to legendary Russian ballerinas such as Nadia Pavlova, Ludmilla Seminyaka and Galina Mezentseva. He carries on their long and soulful legacy.

Troschenko has created a moving sculpture garden where Russian passion is clear for everyone to see, especially in the tall proud bearing of so many manly dancers, and the exquisite, broadly open upper torsos of the women, who hold their arms delicately and high, and attack each step with precision.

Swan Lake tells the story of a young maiden, Odette, who is under the spell of evil sorcerer von Rothbart, who has condemned her and others like her to be swans by day and human at night. Odette, the Swan Queen, can only break the spell by having a young man swear his undying love for her.

If unfaithful, she will be trapped forever.

Prince Siegfried longs for love, but his mother tells him he must choose a bride from among the princesses invited to his 21st birthday. Unimpressed, he leaves the ball and goes into the forest to hunt with his friends, sees the maidens near a lake and falls deeply in love with the queen. He pledges to free her from the spell but, back at the party, is tricked by von Rothbart and chooses his daughter Odile instead. Discovering his error, he rushes back to the forest, battles Von Rothbart and is reunited with his love.

'The Dying Swan' Soloists Anna Dorosh and Maksim Chepik

Maria Makarenko is simply beautiful in the dual role of swan (Odette) and sorcerer’s daughter (Odile). Trapped in the body of a bird, her movements of back, head and neck are extraordinarily supple, while the articulation of her hands and feet is lovely. The tall Zavalishin (who happens to be her husband in real life) makes a handsome Prince, but he has little to do but show her off until halfway through the second act, when he delivers some splendid clean leaps.

While Swan Lake is one of the most technically demanding ballets for a ballerina, the remarkable Makarenko manages her moments of unsupported balance with ease, and is in total control of her dozens of whip-sharp spins. The passionate pas de deux with her and the Prince are irresistibly romantic and tender. She is velvet smooth.

'Swan Lake' Soloists Anna Dorosh and Maksim Chepik and the 'corps de ballet'

The corps de ballet — a flock of 18 swans — shows off its precision, delicacy and harmony of line, while standing with feathers quivering in unison, folding themselves up like fluffy goslings, preening, gliding across the stage with tiny pitter-patter steps, or posing in a stunning tableau

While the original version is more than four hours long, this staging has been artfully edited to just over two, yet it still manages to run the gamut of human emotion from elation to despair, purity to corruption, melancholy to joy. It grabs the audience at the beginning and doesn’t let it go — although the ending is not what everyone might expect.

Performances in Russia and Cuba often have happy endings and in this version the Swan Queen doesn’t die. Frankly, I miss that cathartic moment. It feels a touch saccharine when the evil von Rothbart is vanquished and the loving couple appear headed toward marital bliss. But the essence of the story is the same.

By Victoria Times Colonist, edited version
Go to nutcracker.com to find a Swan Lake or Great Russian Nutcracker performance near you in 2010.

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