Derek Deane created his version of Swan Lake in 1997 to be seen at the Royal Albert Hall and other in-the-round spaces, but later adapted later it for traditional theatres. Here are the London critics on the latest outing of Deane's Swan Lake with English National Ballet at the London Coliseum theatre with Dasa Wharton's photos.
Zoe Andersen for the Independent wrote:
Derek Deane's production offers a clear, unfussy framework for the dancing, based on the traditional text by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. Peter Farmer's feathery landscapes and richly embroidered costumes evoke a medieval world. Daniel Parkinson conducts the company's own orchestra in Tchaikovsky's beloved score, with some rich tone and bubbling solo work.
Louise Levene in the Financial Times noted:
Deane grew up by the lake – he first saw the ballet as a Royal Ballet student in 1971. A year later he was dancing in that very production and steadily worked his way from peasant to Prince.
Of the cast, Teresa Guerriero for Culture Whisper said:
On press night the lovers were danced by company principals Emma Hawes and Aitor Arrieta.
Tall and willowy, there's a delicate fragility to Hawes's Odette. Her sad and gentle Swan Queen is believable, as is her gradual yielding to Siegfried's ardour, but her Black Swan Odile fails to convey a sense of irresistible seduction and is, therefore, less affecting.
Arrieta is a handsome, neat dancer with a good classical line, light jump and controlled landings. His dancing is, however, inexpressive, so that his lengthy solo that brings Act I to a close, though technically very beautiful, tells us nothing about Siegfried's character.
Mesmerising was James Streeter's Rothbart, whose assertive presence and malignant power never overstepped the line into villainous overacting.
While Jonathan Gray for Gramilano said,
Less enjoyable, for me at least, was the constant “flapping” wings of the evil Von Rothbart throughout the evening. As played by James Streeter, this proved highly irritating and distracting; I kept wanting to tell Rothbart to, “Calm down, dear!”
Horses for courses.
Gray also noted a lack of lyricism in some of the dancing:
The ensemble on opening night looked as if it had been well prepared and well drilled, with the corps de ballet of swans impressively precise. I wish, however, they had performed with more lyrical fluency than they did, particularly in their backs and arms, which meant the dances often had a staccato quality that was more prosaic than poetic – I was looking for a greater sense of breadth and expansiveness from all of them.
Except for the wonderful Rhys Antoni Yeomans, who gave a terrific account of the Neapolitan that was full of light, shade and Ashtonian fun, this “staccato” quality could also be seen in the performances of the principals and soloists.
And here Guerriero and Gray are in total agreement; she writes:
The court divertissements were a little hit and miss, but the Neapolitan Dance, a gem of Ashton choreography, was thrillingly interpreted by Adriana Lizardi and Rhys Antoni Yeomans (very much one to watch).
David Jays for the Evening Standard wrote,
The iconic swans cluster under a watery moon. Led with tilting grandeur by Precious Adams and Emily Suzuki, 22 dancers seem to breathe as one, swirling in anxious circles or susurrating on point. An audience member nearby sang along to all the big tunes: conductor Daniel Parkinson too relishes Tchaikovsky's melodies. The magic is only marred by James Streeter's distractingly cloak-swirling sorcerer, turning the acting up to 11.
Gray also noted Adams' various appearances:
My eye was constantly drawn to the dancing of Precious Adams who, through the evening, appeared in the Act I Waltz, as a Lead Swan in Acts II and IV and as a Fiancée in Act III. She is a big talent and should be getting more opportunities than she does from ENB in classical roles.
Marilyn Kingwill in The Times enjoyed Emma Hawes' performance, but not that of her partner:
But her partnership with Aitor Arrieta's Siegfried was not a match made in heaven. His dancing was too tentative, his partnering too weak, and he failed to master the prince's introspective solo at the end of Act I, a key moment in understanding the character's melancholia. And though he perked up as the evening went on, Arrieta never really brought home the drama of Siegfried's dilemma.
The immediate problem for Aaron Watkin, ENB's incoming artistic director, will be filling the gaps in the male principal ranks. Having recently lost a trio of its stars — Isaac Hernández, Joseph Caley and Jeffrey Cirio — the company suffers from a serious scarcity of male talent at the top.
Jenny Gilbert for The Arts Desk poetically noted:
There is possibly no sound more spellbinding in ballet than the off-stage pitterpat of 24 pairs of ballet pointes just before they first bourrée into view.
Odette/Odile Emma Hawes
Prince Siegfried Aitor Arrieta
Pas de Trois Julia Conway, Katja Khaniukova, Noam Durand
Rothbart James Streeter
Lead Swans Precious Adams, Emily Suzuki
Princesses Precious Adams, Ivana Bueno, Julia Conway, Chloe Keneally, Katja Khaniukova, Francesca Velicu
Spanish Dance Eireen Evrard, Emily Suzuki, Fernando Carratalá Coloma, Daniel McCormick
Lead Czardas Alice Bellini, Henry Dowden
Neapolitan Dance Adriana Lizardi, Rhys Antoni Yeomans
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.