Yesterday, the SO and I went to see Swan Lake by the Russian Ballet theatre. The company’s full name translates to something like «Moscow State Theatre of Russian Ballet». It was founded by former Bolshoi soloist Vyacheslav Gordeev thirty years ago and is still under his artistic direction today. They often tour Switzerland, Austria and Germany and even have a German website.
We went to see their production of Swan Lake at the Musical Theater Basel. It’s been over twenty years since I’ve seen this ballet and the SO was a ballet virgin before he met me. A Russian company seems like a good bet to first see a Tchaikovsky ballet, since Russian productions tend to be very traditional.
The Russian Ballet theatre did not disappoint. Gorgeous backdrops, detailed costumes and, of course, the wonderful dancers made for a gorgeous ballet. The principals, Anna Scherbakova and Dmitry Kotermin, were amazing as Odette/Odile and Siegfried respectively. We were sitting close enough to the stage to appreciate not just the dancing, but also the acting of all the soloists. I especially loved Arutiun Arakelian as the Fool – not only was his grand allegro hellishly impressive, he also managed to portray a wonderfully annoying but still lovable character, chasing after all the ladies of the court and badgering poor Wolfgang.
The corps de ballet also performed wonderfully. The swans were perfect, watching them weave across the stage was almost hypnotic, especially in Act IV. The SO enjoyed watching them for different reasons. You know how your teachers tell you to watch your face at all times when you’re on stage? It’s because of people like the SO, who’s got a bit of a background in theatre himself and will absolutely notice if you briefly check out Siegfried’s shapely behind or turn your head slightly to watch the prima ballerina. Not by way of criticism – just a little observation and a reminder that even swans are human.
The audience was lovely – many dancers and teachers and a large number of little ballet girls with their hair done up in buns. One even got to change out of her winter boots into ballet slippers. In the last act, I noticed her surreptitiously mimicking the graceful hand movements of the swans. Another little girl, sitting in the front row, went absolutely crazy when the principals came to say hi to her during the applause. She was jumping up and down and clapping the whole time, it was the most adorable thing ever. 😂
It was only my second ballet as an adult – the first one was Nutcracker, also by a Russian company. Having started so classically, the next event on our schedule is the brand-new Faust by Edward Clug. We both love the play and are really looking forward to our date in May. Which ballets have you seen recently? Which ones would you like to see?