When it comes to ballet I am a traditionalist’

I was nearly three when my mother took me to the theatre to see Alicia Markova and Anton Dolan in classical ballet.

I have also had the wonderful experience of having seen ballet in places all over the world from Australia to America and back again and had the mind blowing experience of seeing Nureyev, Fonteyn, Ashton, Helpman and Baryshnikov live on stage.

So I am a real ballet lover but my blood pressure rises when I see classical works re-invented – its almost like re-writing the bible.

But some-how when I see a Matthew Bourne ballet it doesn’t have that effect on  me. You see Bourne’s work is not just a re-invention it’s a whole new work of art and passion.

In November 1995 Bourne staged his version of Swan Lake and a piece of dance history was made. Not without its critics it was often referred to as the gay swan lake that ruffled feathers.

Yet its amazing that with not a tutu or point shoe in sight Bourne’s Swan Lake   has stood the test of time and become a real favourite with both new and regular ballet audiences.

Tchaikovsky’s music for Swan Lake is exciting, passionate and pulsating and this described aptly Bourne’s new production.

Set and Costume Designer Lez Brotherstone has created some breath-taking costumes that are glittering and gorgeous but most of all fit the characters they are worn by and are accessorised beautifully.

His sets move smoothly to give a seamless production and yet retain some of the grandeur one expects from classical ballet whilst Paule Constable’s lighting spans from the dramatic to the romantic so brilliantly.

The all important swans in this new production can only be described as magnificent birds. It is so good to see the men come into their own in Bourne’s productions and not just be there to support the female dancers.

Their movement, facial expression,  hissing and the marvellous physical prowess they present is mind-blowing. I also loved the impish choreography of the signets and the fact the dancers used every single facet of their face and body to put this over.

Will Bozier’s Swan and Stranger bordered on brilliance with unbelievable elevation and strength yet still retaining the harshness and then poignancy as the end of the role.

As the Prince, Dominic Norris combined a confused  young man with being a regal spoilt brat so beautifully. I particularly loved his troubled moments that were presented with such conviction and  in complete contrast to his comedic intervals.

Nicole Kabera’s Queen was pure joy to watch and left me mesmerised With a glint in her royal eye she reminded of a certain Queen’s sister who shall be nameless.

And my congratulations go to the ladies in the show who danced their way through Tchaikovsky’s music in heels conquering so many different dance styles and steps so skilfully. No mean task, as an ex-dancer I can tell  you.

If you’ve not seen a Bourne ballet then I advise you to go and see for yourself Swan Lake –  you will be glad you did.

To Saturday November 10 at Bradford Alhambra

Liz Coggins is a member of the Critics Circle.

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