Review: The Russian State Ballet of Siberia perform Swan Lake at Liverpool Empire

By Caitlin Andrews

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia put on a mesmerising display during their production of Swan Lake last night, at the Empire Theatre. From the simplistically lovely, moon-lit backdrop, and the intricate costumes and dazzling dances – the whole experience was one to behold and treasure.

The story is often classified as one of the most exquisite – if not, the greatest – romantic ballet of all time, so I sat down in anticipation and set my expectations high – and as I looked at everyone around me, it was evident that the rest of the audience were thinking the same thing.

Produced by the Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia which was formed in 1981, it has swiftly become known as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and has accumulated international acclaim for executing performances which are as unique as they are exceptional – and Swan Lake is no exception.

Tchaikovsky’s tale is centred around Prince Siegfried who falls in love with Odette, a maiden who has been cursed by the evil Von Rothbart and transforms into a swan by day. The only way to break the spell is for Odette’s one true love to sacrifice his own life in order to save her, despite the Prince being unwittingly unfaithful and being the unfortunate subject of Von Rothbart’s devious plan.

Combining elements of magic, romance, and tragedy, one thing which the tale is most definitely not known for is a simple storyline, and without the use of the enchanting sound effects and expressive movements, admittedly, it would have been easy to get lost in the complexity of the plot. However, they perfectly navigated the fine line between drowning in the storyline and remaining hyper focused on the intricacies of it; from the beginning to the end, the execution of the tale was wonderfully moving. The captivating backdrop of the castle proved to be a simple yet aesthetically effective device, and the slightly animated aspect to it provided a beautifully immersing touch. It complimented the aesthetic of the tale, entirely, and the same could be said about the latter transition to the moon-lit, swaying lake background. The moon glittered over the undulating waters of lake and the dancers effortlessly drifted across the forefront. It was vibrant, it was meticulous, and it was magical. As I looked around, it was clear that everyone was in complete awe of the performance.

A precise balance between music and movement was struck in the performance. With the conductor, Alexander Yudasin, providing the leadership of the musical theatrics, the sound aspects collaborated beautifully with the visual; providing an all-encompassing ethereal experience. They complemented each other perfectly. The surrealistic nature of the performance was also aided by the daintily sophisticated costumes which were almost impossibly intricate, and only contributed to the immaculate aesthetics of the ballet.

As the dramatic finale approached, the water became slightly more turbulent as it panicked Prince Siegfried and the cunning Baron Von Rothbart. Only at this point, the audience were released from their complete captivation with the stunning display.

Despite it being a considerably longer ballet performance, this did not mean the quality of it was compromised. The audience were in awe from the start to the end, with the fairy-tale-fueled dream aspect only dulling in the final moments of the performance; when reality snapped back into place, and we were forced to break out of our collective entrancement.



The Russian State Ballet of Siberia is accompanied by The Orchestra of the Russian State Ballet



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