Dominion Post, New Zealand
by Jenny Stevenson
THE virtuosic art of ice dancing is something we see very little of in New Zealand - it has its own artistry and technique and there is very little to be gained from comparing it with the art of classical ballet. This production transforms the ballet Swan Lake and even Tchaikovsky’s score - using the characters from the much-loved classic but vesting them with a different dynamic.Wisely, there is little attempt made to reproduce the balletic choreography for the ice-skaters. In any event, the muscularity of the form precludes this. Instead, director-choreographer Tony Mercer has enhanced the gliding, spinning and incredible lifts of ice dancing with theatrical and dramatic effects that raise them to another dimension than the more technical displays of international sporting competition.
The lead artists are secure in their characterisations and the romantic storyline of good overcoming evil gives substance to the whole. Clearly, however, the men have a much greater part to play in this production than is the case in the ballet. Anton Klykov, who plays the part of the villain Rothbart - a sort of punk-mobster - shows off a formidable technique and dances with a vibrant energy.
Prince Siegfried, danced by Vadim Yarkov and Benno his friend, performed by an irrepressible Andrei Penkine, have a strong presence throughout, dancing with a great deal of style. But it is the strength of all the men, including the hard-working corps holding the women aloft - sometimes two or three at one time - that make this show so extraordinary.
Odette, played by Olga Sharutenko as a much more feisty swan maiden than is normally the case in the ballet, has a pure line that is shown off in the beautiful flying sequences of the big, romantic pas-de-deux. The swan maidens do beautiful sequence-skating to surround and support their queen. Odile, danced by Olena Pyatash with a strong technique, is not the arch-villainess that she is in the ballet. The corps all have a chance to show off individually and reprise their particular tricks in the encore.
This is a production of colour, dazzling costumes and many theatrical surprises, superbly performed. Not for the ballet purist, but definitely a good evening’s entertainment.