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Swan Lake – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Written by Holly Pettifer
31st January 2020

I went into Swan Lake not knowing much about ballet at all. I’ve come away wanting to learn more.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Swan Lake is, to put it simply, stunning. The costumes are stunning, the dancing is stunning, the synchronisation of the dancers is stunning.

After a slightly eventless, while also beautifully danced, first act, the story picks up in the second act, where Prince Seigfried (Tyrone Singleton) meets the beautiful Odette (Céline Glittens), and very quickly falls in love. 

Glittens made history when she became the first black ballerina to portray Odette/Odile in the UK, and her talent is obvious. Her lines are perfect; she holds her body beautifully, and she tells the story through her movements so well, it’s actually a little heartbreaking. Her performance deserves its own review of how brilliant it was. The chemistry shown on stage between Singleton and Glittens was something that I had never seen before, and it showed the audience how in love the two characters were perfectly, so much so that it brought tears to my eyes during the finale. 

Singleton had such grace in his dancing and acting that you couldn’t help but be enveloped in the story, his movements showed the emotions his character was dealing with the whole way throughout the show, while also showing no exhaustion after picking Glittens up seamlessly several times. There was no evidence that he was even vaguely tired after dancing on a stage for thirty minutes straight, and he managed to get Glittens, who admittedly, did look very light, up over his head several times, without fail, without any trace of a struggle. How he does that every day I will never understand. 

The other performer that caught my eye was Benno (Tzu-Chao Chou). He was able to dance as elegantly as the female dancers while also keeping up the personality of his character. I had no clue how he was able to be so smiley for the entire first act, but then also portray the heartbreak his character has to go through in the fourth act. Even from the dress circle, I could see how genuinely distraught Chou was in the scene. 

Throughout the performance, my attention was regularly drawn to the beautiful costumes. With some of the costumes being the original costumes from forty years ago, and some of the costumes being made new for this production, using fabric from the original costumes to get them looking as close to the originals as the costumes designers could, it was almost impossible to look away. The skirts bounced perfectly as the girls danced, and the tiara’s caught your eye as the lights shone on them. I’d just like to congratulate the costume designers for doing an amazing job.

After one viewing of the ballet, I am more than willing to go back if I have the chance. It was beautifully choreographed, the dancers were amazing. All of them, not just the main characters, and I was sat in awe the whole time. If you have the opportunity to go and watch it, take it, you will not regret it. Swan Lake is in Southampton until the 1st Feb.

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