The United Ukrainian Ballet
Artistic Leader Gone Jongh
Reimagined by Elena Glurjidze
Photo Credit Mark Engelen
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
To many of us, seeing Swan Lake is like going to a performance of Hamlet or hearing a well-constructed, often-told joke. You’ve experienced it on numerous occasions so it ultimately comes down to the interpretation and the execution.
I once saw the Berlin Komische Oper production of Swan Lake in which the swans wore black costumes and goose stepped.
The United Ukrainian Ballet version is traditional. From Tchaikovsky’s familiar score to the white tutus, you know what to expect. Rather than having a full orchestra, the music had been recorded but it didn’t detract from the performance.
I won’t even pretend to be an expert on the technical aspects of ballet or classical music. When hearing the William Tell Overture, I think of the Lone Ranger. What I did notice about this ballet is that the dancers know how to milk applause. The music told us when the movement was finished, and the ballerinas took a bow, then another, maxing out at five bows. The codpieces were much more modest than the ones used by The Australian Ballet.
The often seen pas de quatre has been replicated hundreds of times in commercials, films and on Red Faces on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. There was even a Scott Towels television commercial that featured that bit.
In this production, the leads were Kateryna Chebykina as Odette/Odile and Oleksii Kniazkov as Prince Siegfried and they were enthusiastically supported by the corps de ballet. My favourite was Pavlo Zurnadzhi as the Jester. His third act enchaînement of stage-devouring fouettés brought massive applause. The Act Three set and costumes were also outstanding. The sets for the other three acts didn’t distract from the choreography.
The curtain call didn't receive a standing ovation but when the cast and crew started to sing the Ukrainian national anthem, the audience rose as one and there were tears. Now THAT was a moment.