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A Magazine for Sheffield

Swan Lake, Crucible

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Matthew Bourne and designer Lez Brotherston have given their critically-acclaimed production of Swan Lake a fresh look, revising some of the designs, the lighting and the choreography.

Oh my god. What an amazing production. We were stopped in our tracks, as we were brought into the Prince's threatening and overbearing world, with irreverent and convention-breaking choreography accompanied by Tchaikovsky's familiar music.

We laughed at his frilly girlfriend and the Queen's fawning subjects, but the Prince is taken to the brink of suicide, and it is when he is in this state that he meets the Swan and falls in love with him. Gone is the superficial and bullying world of the Palace, as we enter the very real, physical world of the swans. They are intoxicating, fierce, protective, masculine, dangerous and utterly breathtaking. The duet between the Prince and the Swan, circling until they give in to each other at last, is heart-stopping.

Never before at the ballet have I wondered what is going to happen next and ached for the lovers to have their time. A tragedy unfolds, neither the swans nor the Queen can accept this love, and both do whatever they can to prevent it.

I quite enjoy ballet, but this is something else. The whole performance demands your attention, from the cruel humour in the royal world, to the animal physicality of the swans and the portrayal of the age-old problem of forbidden love, reframed in a way that is, sadly, still so relevant. The choreography tells the story but cleverly allows you space to be part of it, to interpret it for yourself, endowing the experience with a greater meaning.

When I see something like this - where the performers are giving it everything, where someone has gone out on a limb to tell me something - I am in awe of the technical skill, but also the sheer emotional investment of everyone involved, and I come away feeling so grateful.

Four days later, I feel like I was part of something that night, that Bourne and his company New Adventures applied some meaning to this complicated world, and straightened it out a bit for me.

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