Swans are monogamous creatures, many mating with a single partner for life. In Tchaikovsky’s master narrative he draws an analogy and caveat for faithful relationships, a parallel which is relevant for the audience of all ages.
An enactment of maestro Tchaikovsky’s ballet may conjure up images of gracefulness, finesse and softness. The Ballet of Monte Carlo, however, brings much more to their vibrant interpretation of the famous production.
The story is of the carefree Prince Siegfried, who, at the behest of the Queen, is pushed to find a match. He goes in search of love. Arriving at a lake full of swans, he finds the beautiful Odette, the Swan Queen Odette, along with her companions who are victims of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart’s spell. By day they become swans and only at night, by the enchanted lake – created from the tears of Odette’s mother – do they become humans once again. The spell can only be broken by one who has never loved before who swears to love Odette forever.
Full credit is due to choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot, whose interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is a powerful combination of grace, power and anguish all portrayed in the light steps of the glowing ballerinas and ballerinos. A highlight of the choreography was the polyrhytmic dances which intersected each other. Symbiotic and simultaneous, the movements enhanced the other without detracting or distracting the audience from the narrative in focus.
The Queen, danced by Mimoza Koike, was utterly divine and radiant. Thanks to the daring of Philippe Guillotel whose costumes combined nobility and passion – invoking images of a grand Russian past – Mimoza Koike, in her accordion pleated, regal attire, showed off a mastery of elegance and gracefulness, accentuated by her twirling costumes.
The protagonist, Prince Siegfried, interpreted by the majestic ballerino Stephan Bourgond, is a passionate and exuberant dancer, yet carefully balances the complex emotions demanded from his role. His omnipotence on stage as central character is undeniable as he leads the narrative.
The bold costumes, chosen by Philipper Guillotel were fanciful and delightful. One ballerina, courting the attention of the Prince, pirouetted in a sultry red dress, whilst another swanned onto the stage in an elegantly pleated attire. The costumes are reminiscent of the splendid courtly past of Russia, showing a passionate and soulful culture, reflected in the movements of the dancers and the sonorous score.
The supporting dancers, in bold colours, provided a light, energetic, fluid and tight accompaniment to the the grand narrative. Special mention goes to the Confidant of the Prince, danced by Jeroen Verbruggen, who was funny and charming – a fantastic alternative to the dense and poignant story.
One incredible moment, which showcased the range of his ability, was a slow-motion scene, with Alvaro Prieto as the King and Mimoza Koike as Queen, whereby the ballerina and ballerinos carefully unfurled an emotion-packed scene in their struggle against the Archangels of Darkness, and the imperious Her Majesty of the Night, Maude Sabourin. This moment of finesse showed the delicate movements of the dancers and their extraordinary grace and balance.
Tchaikovsky’s score – romantic, uplifting and poignant, gives beauty to the light and graceful steps of the Monte Carlo ballet. The only disappointment was the lack of a live orchestra which compliments and enhances the ballet. However, the dancers, resplendent and radiant, gave a thrilling performance, not to be missed.