Last week, I talked about ‘new’ in the historically accurate Shakespeare’s Globe. The same words with new twists. This week I saw Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House. Prior to seeing it, I had little to no understanding of the plot. My friends and I tried humming and singing parts of the music over gin and tonics before hand. We knew one bit, our other attempts sounded more like Harry Potter. I do know this about ballet; the music doesn’t change and the choreography doesn’t change. So what’s new?
First, a quick review from a complete dummy. I did two weeks of ballet when I was in my teens so I’m the first to admit I know fuck all. The performance is broken into four scenes in three acts. The first at 70 minutes, the second at 40 minutes and the final at 20 minutes. It seemed a little pointless to me to have a second interval of 20 minutes to return for 20 minutes but again, I’m a dummy. I assume it’s more for the dancers as some sections of dance are physically and mentally demanding. I like to look at everything. As impressive as the prima ballerina or ‘main swan’ was, I was more in awe of the girls on the sides; they held delicate poses for ages and effortlessly changed position on the stage avoiding other skinny limbs. I applauded for them, not the girl who just got an applause and came back for a couple more spins and wanted another shower of affection. And the jester, comic characters always get a louder clap from me. Long story short, it was beautiful.
I saw it, I liked it. I would get a front facing seat with a seat back next time so it’s not so much Back of a Head Lake. But would I see it again? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unless it had radical changes such as an all male version. With so much control and things set in stone, what can you offer a loyal audience? For me, the evening was about seeing great friends and the ability to say ‘I saw Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House’. The venue commands respect and their performances to be done in the proper way. Maybe radical is a turnoff which is why Emma Rice’s Summer of Love season had such bad reviews at Shakespeare’s Globe. People don’t like change. I like change. I like new. I like radical. In the future, I shall seek it elsewhere.