The Bolshoi: Swan Lake


As to be expected this is generally a very traditional version of SWAN LAKE, danced magnificently, at times bold, vibrant and colourful and with two outstanding leads. The ‘white’ acts ,a pinnacle of Romanticism,were terrific.

Under the dynamic baton of maestro Pavel Sorokin the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra was in top form and gave a splendid performance.

The ensemble work was tremendous. Sometimes in the ‘white acts’, the camera gave views shooting from above so that the very complicated lines and patterns were visible.

This revival of the Grigorovich production has some very interesting ideas, most, but not all of which work.The set designs are magnificent, but I was not particularly impressed by some of the costumes for the princesses in Act 3. And the headdress for the Queen Mother in Act 3 was far more as if from Turandot or indeed Ancient Egypt! What is striking is the inclusion of black swans in the corps and also as part of Odile’s entourage (which makes a lot of sense actually- as a  princess she would have a huge entourage).

Pages and pages could be written about the glorious performance of Zakharova as Odette/Odile. Her Odette is a wonder, a trapped, fragile, delicate creature with eloquent arms and an incredible singing long line arabesque. The ‘White Act’ pas de deux are breathtaking.

As the evil enchantress Odile she is alluring, hypnotic and powerful. She teases and hypnotises Siegfried and is like a hissing yet purring cat with hidden velvet claws and diamond eyes.

Our hero Prince Siegfried is dynamically played by dreamily handsome Denis Rodkin who looks every inch a fairy tale prince and dances magnificently. His solos are tremendous and he is a terrific, attentive partner and a glorious match to Zakharova. He has sensational elevation and is a breath taking dancer. Bravo!

Von Rothbart is here called The Evil Genius, eerily played by Artemy Belyakov. He had vivid, imposing makeup but I was disappointed in his costumes. In Act3, emphasising his hypnotic power, he displays an incredible series of ‘Spartacus’ like jumps and turns.

This version is one that features a jester/Fool in the court acts and Igor Tsvirko was very impressive. There was however no Benno ( the Prince’s friend).

The character/national dances of the various Princesses- Neapolitan, Spanish, Hungarian, Russian- were performed with verve and panache.

*Spoiler alert*- for me this version ends rather strangely and abruptly. There is no killing of Von Rothbart, no double suicide of Odette and Siegfried and apotheosis or variation thereof, as is generally seen in most productions. In this version the Evil Genius uses his powers to destroy Odette, who collapses in his arms , and Siegfried is left alone, defeated. Most unsatisfying and odd.

Still, if you want to see a mostly traditional version with some exceptional dancing, this film is for you.

Running time 2 hours and 40 minutes with one interval.

The Bolshoi Ballet’s SWAN LAKE screened at selected cinemas from March 28

For more about Bolshoi Ballet Swan Lake, visit