Swann Lake at Salford starring Will Bozier.

Watching Matthew Bourne’s modern recreation of the classic Swan Lake with a male couple at its heart was an emotional experience at Salford’s Lowry.

The performance was bold and impactful both visually and psychologically.

The replacement of the female swan challenges the idea of a conventional couple, passing on a message of social acceptance. The aura that filled the theatre shifted from thrilling to dramatic, and from dramatic to peaceful. The music and the dancers successfully captivated the audiences’ attention; setting the mood through their powerful movements.

The twenty-first-century masterpiece was literally brilliant – packed with vibrant colours,  flashy lights and fancy dresses- as the beautiful plot played out.

It was an unconventional performance, quite different to the traditional Tchaikovsky production that casts a female swan. However, the use of a male character to represent the swan; created a different atmosphere – and it gave a new sense to the performance. The aggressiveness of the Swan (Will Bozier) towards the Prince (Dominic North), is quite striking when they first meet at the city park, whereas it would have been a much smoother and romantic encounter with the use of a female character as the swan. There is distance between the Prince and the Swan at first glance, but when they dance in a duet there is a harmonious feel in the atmosphere; and it makes one notice both dancers equally as they were dancing perfectly in sync.

What established the twenty-first-century element into this production was the use of technology, such as the girlfriend’s Iphone that rang in the Opera House, which was also key to showing her inappropriate behaviour.

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Although the music was classical, the choreography was also adapted in a modern way that fitted perfectly. This was evident in the scene in the city park where the swans emerge and dance to Tchaikovsky’s classical pieces. The choreography of the production was dazzling; one could never get a dull feeling while watching this performance, the dancers were extremely talented and pulled off an exceptional show.

The production had lots of funny moments mostly starring the girlfriend (Carrie Willis) whose manners were evidently inappropriate, as she was almost always presented next to the Queen (Katrina Lyndon) who has a royal manner and seems to disapprove of the girlfriend. The great contrast between the two characters is not only evident in their behaviour and mannerism, but also in the way they were dressed. The Queen is always presented in royal gowns (most distinctive at the Royal Hall where she is wearing a red royal gown), whereas the girlfriend is always presented in mini flashy dresses. The girlfriend makes the atmosphere awkward with her manners in the Opera House, where her phone rings, and at the Royal Hall where her lack of manners compared to the people around her cannot be left unnoticed.

The most prominent scene involving the prince and the swan is of course, the final scene that takes place in the Prince’s bedroom. The swan tries to protect the Prince in a battle with the rest of the swans; and the scene is dramatic and brutal with dancers flowing in an aggressive manner on stage, trying to captivate the Prince. The prince’s expression connotes despair as he seems lost and afraid, whilst the swan is hopelessly trying to protect the two of them. The scene ends with the ferocious death of both protagonists. The queen enters the Prince’s room and finds him lying dead on his bed. The finale was beautiful, as the swan reappears on the window above the bed, holding the Prince in his arms and at that moment, it seems that they are finally liberated, providing the audience with a sense of relief knowing that the two have ended up together.

 

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