Corps don bleu
The sight of a tightly-knit group of white tutus arranged in their geometric patterns in the lakeside acts of Swan Lake is one of the great experiences in world theatre. English National Ballet have got it nailed down to a tee at the moment – the corps were outstanding in this show, precisely organised but also transmitting bucket-loads of emotion, they were the undoubted highlight of this performance.
It was a bit of shame that not everyone else danced with such rigour and passion. Isaac Hernández was Siegfried and he’s a dancer with beautiful line who started and stopped his steps in exquisite posture. And yet, in-between he seemed to only offer a need to get from A to B – it was the destination, not the journey that mattered to this Prince. It wasn’t until the Black Swan pas de deux that he finally linked everything together to create a real sense of purpose to his character.
His Odette/Odile, Jurgita Dronina, relied on stillness for effect and her deft balances as Odette were a joy. As Odile, however, she lacked sauciness and although both she and Hernández didn’t put a technical foot wrong, they left something of an emotional hole at the centre of the ballet.
Flashes of the Black Swan pas de deux aside, the best bit of solo dancing came in the 1st act pas de trois. Daniel McCormick (winner of ENB’s 2018 Emerging Dancer) showed a welcome attack and a series of almighty jumps and he was accompanied by the wonderfully fleet of foot Julia Conway who gave her role the happy weightlessness it requires. The national dances came and went in the third act, all proficiently done but with Crystal Costa and Barry Drummond standing out for a terrifically sharp Neapolitan.
Derek Deane’s production still tells a good yarn, has some lovely visuals in it and the English National Philharmonic Orchestra sounded marvellous. Still, nothing could beat those swans all lined up in a triangle.