Swan Lake jumps from Russia to Brantford

– Venetia Bodanis. staff

From its beginnings in 1961 to its first North American touring season in 2006, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia has performed both contemporary ballets and classical ballets for audiences around the world. The company has housed many leading dancers throughout its history, including prima ballerina and principal dancer of their current show Swan Lake, Svetlana Noskova.

“I always feel that little bit of nervousness before each show,” says Noskova. “I always want to do my absolute best.”

None of those nerves were visible to Brantford’s packed Sanderson Centre where a wide assortment of people gathered this past Sunday to watch The State Ballet Theatre’s touring performance of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet, Swan Lake.

With a completed successful tour nearly under their belt, the company has only about a week and a half of performances left, with Brantford as one of their final stops. The 45 shows that the company has already performed as part of their North American tour did not seem to have had an effect on the dancers’ performances. Their dancing captivated the audience for the entire two and a half hours as theatre-goers watched the romantic story of the Prince and the White Swan unfold as trickery, magic, and lust are thrown into the mix.

Aside from the interesting set construction, the intricate medieval costumes (that the dancers quickly switched in and out of every act) added to the overall impressiveness of the performance. Artistic and Tour Director, Olga Nepomnyashchaya counts all three of these things as her favourite part of the production.

“It’s a really interesting process, to see it come together from the beginning to the end. Between the choreography and the dance and the aspect of stage decoration and the costumes, which are all hand made. And then in the end being able to see the final product gives me so much pride,” says Nepomnyashchaya through her translator.

Swan Lake can either be performed in three or four acts with a variation of endings depending on what the artistic director chooses.  The company’s director chose to showcase the ballet in the traditional four acts, allowing audience members that little bit extra. The Brantford audience was clearly appreciative of this added act, as they clapped enthusiastically after each scene, and clapped exceptionally loudly after the well-choreographed dance between the Prince and the Black Swan. The audience’s positive reaction for each scene seems to be nothing new for the company’s dancers and directors.

“Most of the tour has been going very smoothly and the audiences go up after the show and say how much they enjoyed it and appreciated them coming,” Nepomnyashchaya explains.

Usually the ending of Swan Lake ranges from a more depressing finale where both the Prince and the White Swan drown together in a lake, to a slightly less dreary ending where the White Swan is forced to remain a swan forever by the evil Sorcerer, leaving the Prince alone.

Nepomnyashchaya’s ending however, consisted of the Prince and the White Swan defeating the Sorcerer by ripping off one of his wings and killing him, leaving the couple to live happily together. This is quite a different version than the loosely adapted 2010 film, Black Swan, where Natalie Portman’s character throws herself off a cliff after being deceived by the Prince. Nepomnyashchaya’s decision to use a positive ending was a choice well made considering the audience consisted of mostly young girls in their Sunday best.

The performance, complete with a happier ending than normal, caused audience members to give the dancers ultimate praise in the form of a standing ovation, adding yet another successful performance to the State Ballet Theatre of Russia’s repertoire.

“I always like to think positively. All the dancers always give 100% and everything they have, the audience really appreciates that,” Nepomnyashchaya says.

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia will next be performing Romeo and Juliet as part of their North American tour.

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