Swan Lake – English National Ballet: London Coliseum, 11 January 2015

Vasocaru nail it

'Oh Ivan. I think I've left the iron on.' Alina Cojocaru fails to recognise just how good she and Ivan Vasiliev are in ENB's Swan Lake. Photo by Arnaud Stephenson

‘Oh no Ivan, in the balcony there’s someone not fainting with joy.’ Alina Cojocaru worries unnecessarily about how good she and Ivan Vasiliev were in ENB’s Swan Lake. Photo by Arnaud Stephenson

English National Ballet’s Swan Lake is a very decent production and when you slot into it two dancers of the calibre of Ivan Vasiliev and Alina Cojocaru you find yourself in the middle of a highly memorable occasion.

Cojocaru was impeccable. She’s a dancer of rare quality that makes even a straightforward arabesque scream with excitement. Her control, poise and elegance created a suitably delicate Odette just desperate to be rescued.

Vasiliev is not a naturally dramatic actor – when he received the crossbow as a birthday present he ran around like a 10-year old boy with a new bicycle rather than a soon-to-be-married Prince wielding a weapon of mass destruction. It’s his explosive jump and swagger that’s made his name and, despite a decent stab at lonely angst in his early solo, it was the bravado of the third act that really brought his Siegfried to life.

They were terrific on their own but excitingly, Cojocaru and Vasiliev also gelled magnificently in the big pas de deuxs. Their lakeside duet of introduction was exquisite – he was a wonderfully supportive and restrained partner which allowed her to trace her footwork through the air with the finesse of a master calligrapher. A superbly tender rapport had been established and the famous black swan pas de deux revealed fierce passion amongst the fireworks: Cojocaru span out her 32 fouettes with astonishing speed while Vasiliev reached for (and grabbed) the moon with his athleticism.

Beyond the star attractions the rest of the Company was on fine form with sharp, crisp formations from the corps and some especially fine leaping from the men. Cesar Corrales, Lauretta Summerscales and Alison McWhinney’s first act pas de trois was outstanding. Corrales was inspired in his jumps, soaring tirelessly into the air as though trying to out-Vasiliev Vasiliev. His two ballerinas were full of buoyancy and deftness.

Crystal Costa, Senri Kou, Katja Khaniukova and Anjuli Hudson’s cygnets were superbly unified and Costa and Fernando Bufalá were terrifyingly in sync for the Neapolitan Dance. With James Streeter wrapping his Rothbart in considerable menace and the orchestra under Gavin Sutherland sounding as good as I’ve heard them, this was an all-round performance of real style and superb dancing.

Swan Lake runs at the London Coliseum until 18 January 2015. See the English National Ballet website for tickets.

Gerard Davis

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