Two hours of pure joy and inspiration, the English National Ballet’s Swan Lake saw my three-year-old skipping from the theatre declaring she was ‘absolutely, definitely’ going to be a ballerina.
She actually started dancing during the second half of the show, which was perfectly fine as the entire Grand Theatre audience was made up of young children and their families enjoying a special edition of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.
My First Ballet: Swan Lake was described by her as ‘amazing, brilliant and the best thing ever’. I agree. As much as I love the ballet, I have to admit I rarely have any idea what’s going on.
This show is therefore a wonderful introduction to the genre for children, and bewildered adults, as the story is told by a narrator whose unobtrusive stage appearances and gentle interjections helped with the understanding of the plot. An age-old tale of friendship, jealousy and love, with a little magic sprinkled in, the story follows star crossed lovers Prince Siegfried and the beautiful Odette, who is turned into a swan by Rothbart when she refuses to marry him. Her oldest friend, and Rothbart’s sister Odile, shows the grace and love which proves to be the key to breaking the spell, sacrificing her own happiness for that of her friend.
The happy ending seemed a little different to the Swan Lake’s I’ve seen in the past, and indeed the finale has been softened for the young audience, for which I was glad.
The whole thing was beautifully portrayed by the teenage dancers of the English National Ballet School.
No less professional or talented than their adult counterparts, there were some incredibly impressive performances by the principles, in particular Odile’s pirouette sequence which was so fast I lost count of the rotations. She earned a well-deserved and rapturous round of applause.
In fact, there was not a misstep among them and it was a sheer delight to see my daughter’s attempts to emulate their incredible athleticism all the way back to the car park.