In Review

Swan Lake - reviews of 'sublime' Mariinsky Ballet

Critics call 'magnificent' St Petersburg dance company's fairytale classic 'the very essence of ballet'

What you need to know

The Mariinsky Ballet's production of Swan Lake has opened at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The famed classical dance company from St Petersburg have recreated Konstantin Sergeyev's renowned 1950 staging as choreographed by Petipa and Ivanov, with music by Tchaikovsky.

In this version of the classic ballet, Prince Siegfried and his love Odette, a princess transformed into a swan, overcome the forces of evil to find true love.

Twelve dancers alternate in the lead roles of Siegfried and Odette, including Xander Parish, the first British dancer to join the company in its 250-year history. Runs until 14 August.

What the critics like

The "sublime magnificence of the Mariinsky corps de ballet" are at the heart of what ballet is all about, says Allen Robertson in The Times. These women are second to none and their exquisite clockwork precision is worthy of Faberge.

No performance of Swan Lake has ever been perfect, but "the Mariinsky comes close", says Laura Thompson in the Daily Telegraph. The ballet is a mysterious atmospheric mix of theatrical, fantastical, folkloric and romantic and the magnificent corps de ballet are the very essence of ballet.

With Swan Lake the Mariinsky is "on home ground" thanks to Konstantin Sergeyev's fairytale spaciousness and picturebook sets, says Zoe Anderson in The Independent. The corps de ballet is also "superbly disciplined" and perfectly synchronised as dancers sway and flow with shared refinement.

What they don't like

There's lots to enjoy, but "the problem with these epic three-act ballets is there's always a lot of stuffing before you get to the meat", says Lindsey Winship in the Evening Standard. Xander Parish certainly has a career to watch, but this is not quite a blazing debut.

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