Ballet troupe awes with ‘Swan Lake’

Dancers perform as swans in “Swan Lake” on Saturday at Laxson Auditorium. Photo credit: Christina Saschin

Lights flickered with warning that it was time for the clamorous crowd to take their seats. One by one, folks found their places in the theater and waited, their eager eyes glued to the stage’s drawn curtain.

Music began to play overhead and the muffled murmurs filling the room hushed until barely a breath could be heard. Moments passed unhurried and many noted the suspense hanging in the air as the music deepened, fueling the anticipation.

Finally, the house lights dimmed down and the red curtain rose up. So began the imaginations’ transition from inside Laxson Auditorium to the open air of Prince Siegfried’s castle garden.

The auditorium was packed on Saturday for the Russian National Ballet Theatre’s rendition of “Swan Lake.” People of all ages flooded to see Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s timeless Russian folktale of cursed lovers, Prince Siegfried and Odette the Swan Queen, battling to break the evil spell casted by sorcerer Von Rothbart and end in the arms of one another.

Over the centuries, the ballet’s ending has had numerous alterations that range from merrily romantic to utterly tragic. The ballet’s classic version, performed under the creative direction of Elena Radchenko, was that of the famously acclaimed 1895 revival by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov featuring love conquering against all odds.

This ending proved to also win the hearts of the ballet’s patrons as they watched Siegfried and Odette’s journey from the random happenstance of love at first sight to overcoming every obstacle thrown at them in order to be together.

The production itself featured colorful costumes that defined the characters clearly and the set and effects staged the ideal settings throughout.

Though the cast of dancers was well-rehearsed, those portraying Siegfried and Odette dominated the theater platform with a stunningly emoted presence — the exception was the jester, whose whimsical antics and acrobatic moves caused many wow-inducing and laugh-out-loud moments. He was certainly a crowd favorite.

The full-length, four-act ballet fully unfolded in two hours with the famously magnetic choreography danced effectively and with such memorable performances as the “four little swans” in Act II, the “Spanish Bride” in Act III and Odile’s 32 fouette turns also in Act III. Surprisingly, Act III’s Neapolitan dance lacked luster. While the dancing and choreography seemed on point, there was no passion or even much expression in the moves of the dancers themselves, especially with the primary tambourine-tapping individual. She just didn’t look happy to be there.

Overall the whole production was satisfying. The love-fueled dancing drama ended like a fairy tale which made for a pleasantly warm conclusion to a chilly Saturday night.

Amanda Rhine can be reached at [email protected] or @am_rhine on Twitter.