Everyone knows ‘Swan Lake’, but not quite like this. Performed by the Bolshoi Ballet and filmed in Moscow, Tchaikovsky’s timeless tragic fairy tale gets a psychological twist and an oddly downbeat ending. Really, though, the plot is secondary to the spectacle of the dancers’ elegant contortions.
Clever camerawork provides an unparalleled view of the action. You can hear the rustling of Odette’s tutu and see the shuddering thigh muscles beneath Siegfried’s eye-wateringly tight white body stocking. The camera pauses on a pained expression or pointed toes tapping in sharp staccato before going wide and high to see the stage fill with gilded dancers. Looking down from the perspective of the theatre’s brilliant chandelier, we’re shown a murmuration of swans as their matching skirts bob and sway in unison.
This version of ‘Swan Lake’ has been snipped down to two acts, but at 180 minutes it’s still not for the faint-hearted. Still, it’s faithful to the live performance. There’s an interval, some unnecessary chit-chat and a hefty side order of clapping and bowing. But you’ll have a better view than from the theatre’s best and priciest seats.