Review: Swan Lake, Moscow City Ballet, York Barbican, January 27

YORK Barbican boasts some big names this season: Lea Salonga and Art Garfunkel shine out on posters in the foyer, and the world-famous Moscow City Ballet corps graced the space with a one-day stop on their UK tour on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the Barbican was not created for classical ballet. The stage is hollow and gave some very loud thuds whenever a dancer landed from a jump. Both the dancers and musicians should be commended for how well they navigated such a compact space. There was so little room for the already reduced orchestra, that the conductor had to ease his way through the violin players’ stands just to get to his podium.

Nevertheless, the ballet was exceptional. Lilia Orekhova gave a tragically tender performance as Odette/Odile and Talgat Kozhabaev was an astonishing crow-like Baron Von Rothbart, the sorcerer who enchants her. Also noteworthy was Dmitry Lazovik as Pas de Trois, along with the rest of the stunning ensemble. I remember in particular the famous Allegro moderato dance for four swans in Act II. This corps is exemplary for the thoroughness and care which the dancers put into every movement.

Sadly, the ballet was let down by a small and uncoordinated orchestra, although admittedly the acoustics of the Barbican did not make life easy for the players. This was still a wonderful show, featuring exceptionally dedicated and talented artists, and it is just a shame that it was performed in an unsuitable venue.

Review by Ela Portnoy