Because of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more artistic material is appearing online. The BBC’s hastily published response, Culture in Quarantine, is now beginning to bear fruit and its latest presentation comes courtesy of Birmingham Royal Ballet. The Dying Swan (as it’s usually called) was originally created by Mikhail Fokine in 1905 for Anna Pavlova and has since become staple fare for galas across the world. It’s a very elegant looking piece of work nowadays but if you check out Pavlova’s rendition (you can find it on YouTube), you’ll see she was far more unkempt.
Céline Gittens performs it here, in her front room (nice-looking gaff, btw), and throws in a little bit of Pavlova’s wildness. She’s also been given a new ending which, in the circumstances, is a nice touch and one which she carries out thoughtfully. Considering the confines of the space she has to work in (narrowly avoiding sticking her head in a pot-plant at one point), she performs it beautifully. The triple split-screen to allow António Novais and Jonathan Higgins, cellist and pianist respectively, to be seen (and, presumably, to help make the best of portrait-screen mobile phone filming) is effective, and Carlos Acosta’s cheeky-chappie introduction is highly endearing. It’s all rather charming, in fact.
It’s only a few minutes long, but here’s the link to it – it’s well worth watching.