Celebrating their 35th anniversary the Vienna Festival Ballet, a self-funded touring company founded by Peter Malek in 1980 brought Swan Lake, one of ballet’s most popular productions to the stage at the Theatre Royal.
With simple but effective scenery throughout, the ballet is set into 4 acts and performed to the music of P.I. Tchaikovsky with choreography by Terence Etheridge after Marius Petpa, restaged by Emily Hufton. Nothing compares to an orchestra obviously and the lack of one tonight was the only negative of the evening.
During Act 1 we see the Prince Siegfried (Dean Rushton) celebrate his birthday and receiving a crossbow from his mother (Naomi Solomon) who also insists upon her son choosing a bride. Originally from Japan before moving to England at the age of 9 and dancing from the age of 10 Rushton cuts a dashing figure as the prince and performed effortlessly and acted the part superbly, a most suitable prince. The costumes are bright and colourful and a credit to wardrobe mistress Esperanza Carmona who previously was a dancer and after retiring from the stage in 2004 has worked for the VFB since, on creating, repairing and upgrading of costumes.
Act 2 takes us to the lakeside where the young prince is eager to try out his new crossbow and follows a flight of swans. Preparing to take aim he is approached by one of the swans who to his amazement transforms into the beautiful maiden Odette (Perdita-Jayne Lancaster). She tells of how the evil Baron Rothbart (Yoshimasa Ikezawa) a sorcerer has turned her and her companions into swans by day and only by moonlight can they return to their human form. To break the spell she must find a true love who will declare an undying love and a promise to marry her. If the vow is broken she will remain a swan forever. Prince Siegfried declares his love for her. This romantic scene is beautifully portrayed by Lancaster and Rushton and the swans. Enchanting.
The Queen is holding a ball in Act 3 to introduce eligible young princesses to her son but he is not interested in any of them and is distracted by his thoughts of Odette and declines them all. There are some beautiful dance scenes from all of the princesses during this act. A particular mention should be given to court jester (Ashley Seife) who was extremely entertaining with his comical expressions and moves.
Uninvited, Rothbart and his daughter Odile (also performed by Lancaster) make an appearance and The Prince is confused as she appears to be Odette! Taking her hand he believes her to be his true love and declares publicly his everlasting love for her……as the spirit of Odette the white swan appears! Rothbart and his daughter have tricked him and Prince Siegfried flees to the lake in pursuit of Odette.
In the final act we see the other swans waiting for Odette’s return and again give a beautiful moving performance. The young Prince and Odette are distraught at the evil Barons’s trickery and when he appears a fight breaks out and he is overcome by the Prince and his power destroyed reuniting the young couple at last.
The whole ballet was a delight to watch with powerful and beautiful performances given throughout by all the company and particularly the principle dancers.
The Vienna Festival Ballet appeals to audiences of all ages and continues to tour the country. For further information and tour dates contact https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/vienna-festival-ballet
Reviewed on: 6th March 2016
Reviewed by: Lorna Weekes