Swan Lake – Irina Kolesnikova and St Petersburg Ballet Theatre: London Coliseum, 13 August 2015

It’s all swander control

Smelleth the flower, smelleth the man. Irina Kolesnikova likes what her nose tells her in Swan Lake.

Smelleth the flower, smelleth the man. Irina Kolesnikova likes what her nose is telling her in Swan Lake.

The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre appears primarily to be a vehicle for the talents of Irina Kolesnikova and Swan Lake is her calling card. She has incredible control in her dancing, her technique is exemplary and she’s as comfortable standing on pointe as the rest of us are in trainers. At the same time, however, she’s a little steely (her Odette was quite robust) and her attempt at a sexy Odile looked forced.

Her guest Prince for the night was the Bolshoi Ballet Principal dancer Denis Rodkin. In many ways he was similar to Kolesnikova: his technique too was impeccable, his control superb and he glided around the floor like he was on roller skates (and he had a fabulous jump). But his Siegfried lacked personality and life. The anti-climatic duel between him and Rothbart was the feyest ‘ooh, chase me’ fight you could imagine.

Still, the big numbers were excellent. The Act II lakeside duet between Kolesnikova and Rodkin was wonderfully tender and their Black Swan pas de deux was very exciting. When they gelled, they were great to watch.

Maybe because Kolesnikova is the raison d’etre for the entire show there were times when it felt like all the other stuff was being hustled along in order to get her back on stage again as quickly as possible. Act III in particular was pushed through at such a speed that the national dancers stood no chance and the result was a bit of a mess. The swan corps were given a bit more breathing space, however, and came across much better, especially in the beautiful opening of the final act.

Elsewhere Sergei Fedorkov did a smart turn as the Jester, Dmitry Akulinin was a pretty scary Rothbart and the Four Cygnets did a fabulous job. Anna Samostrelova and Miho Naotsuko were lovely in the pas de trios although Mikhail Tkachuk couldn’t match their charming assurance

The production looks slightly old-fashioned but sets the scenes fine and the costumes are attractive. The lighting was often bombastically in your face, especially for the national dances where it drowned the already floundering dancers in swathes of block colours. But overall this was an enjoyable watch, especially the bursts of outstanding classical technique from the two leads.

Irina Kolesnikova’s London Season continues with Swan Lake until 21 August 2015 (including guest Princes Vadim Muntagirov [Royal Ballet] and Kimin Kim [Mariinsky Ballet] as well as the above Denis Rodkin) and then La Bayadère on 22 & 23 August 2015. Tickets can be found on the London Coliseum website.

Gerard Davis

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