Bolshoi Ballet leaves dramas behind for 'dazzling' Swan Lake

Aug 1, 2013

The troubled Russian dance company puts backstage traumas aside to 'dance up a storm'

Damir Yusupov

What you need to know
The Bolshoi Ballet production of Swan Lake has opened at the Royal Opera House. The production, by legendary Bolshoi choreographer Yuri Grigorovich, is part of a three week season by the Russian dance company, marking the 50th anniversary of its first visit to Covent Garden.

The Bolshoi's visit follows months of controversy and allegations of vicious infighting in the company, including an acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin.

Ballet classic Swan Lake depicts Prince Siegfried's love for Odette, a princess turned into a swan by sorcerer's curse, with music by Tchaikovsky. Swan Lake runs until 15 August. Other Bolshoi productions will run until 17 August.

What the critics like
Any dance lovers fretting that the Bolshoi's morale might have been broken by recent events can rest assured - it's "looking spirited indeed", says Mark Monahan in the Daily Telegraph. Their Swan Lake is dazzling: the swan maidens are a model of grace and serenity and there's a giddy amount of talent among the soloists.

The Bolshoi Ballet has put its recent backstage traumas behind it and is doing what it is famous for – "dancing up a storm", says Debra Craine in The Times. All lovers of Russian ballet should be celebrating.

Despite grim circumstances, the Bolshoi, a law unto itself, "sails on", says Zoe Anderson in The Independent. The swans flood onto the stage, speedy and strong, their footwork is quick, their bodies bold and assured.

What they don't like
Despite sympathy for the Bolshoi's recent trials, even loyal fans will be hard-pressed to ignore some of the direr elements of the company's Swan Lake, says Judith Mackrell in The Guardian. Yuri Grigorovich's production is turgid; left to the dancers, the Bolshoi comes into its own.

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