The State Ballet Theatre of Russia’s ‘Swan Lake’ at Hippodrome Theatre at The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings an ethereal and breathtaking production of Swan Lake to Baltimore

For over one hundred years the compelling and romantic ballet Swan Lake, set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, has enchanted audiences. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia, founded by dancer and former Prima ballerina of The Bolshoi Theatre Ballet, Maya Plissetskaya, does not disappoint in its classic and satisfying presentation of this most beloved piece at the Hippodrome in Baltimore this weekend.

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia's Swan Lake. Photo courtesy of Hippodrome Theatre.
The State Ballet Theatre of Russia’s Swan Lake. Photo courtesy of Hippodrome Theatre.

Based on Russian folklore, Swan Lake transports audiences to a dreamlike fairy tale where Seigfried, a young prince coming of age, meets his true love, Odette. Taking the form of a swan by day, due to an evil sorcerer’s spell, Odette beguiles Siegfried and the two fall in love, but to a tragic end.

Among the company’s 55 dancers are many distinguished Russian artists and award winners, including Svetlana Noskova, Yuliya Nepomnyashchaya, Alexandra Alimova, Elena Batishcheva, Marta Filippova, Anastasia Rusina, Denis Kaganer, Alexander Lityagin, Vladislav Ivanov, Valentin Shustikov, Ekaterina Tikhonova, Valery Tselishchev, Kirril Danilov, Alexey Burakov, and Michael Bogomazov.

Choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov deliver this fairy tale with precision and emotion, ranging from jubilant and playful to deeply sorrowful.

Prince Seigfried (Valery Tselishchev) strikes a confident and romantic figure as our hero, both bold in his solo performances, and tender when partnered with Odette. Our Odette/Odille (Ekaterina Tikhonova) gives a self-assured strength to her portrayal, even when tragedy is at hand. Humorous highlights include the jester’s playful solos with impressive fouettés en tournant and Tikhonova’s allegro movements that flirtatiously flutter the tutu. Rothbart (Kirril Danilov) strikes an imposing figure highlighted by sharp leaps and drops, his jetes propelling his full body from floor to the air effortlessly. The ensemble of swan dancers execute their pieces with flawless precision, moving as one to create perfect and whimsical chasses across the figurative water. Particularly memorable are the four cygnets.

The lighting was on-point as the stage was bathed in blue light for the soothing and watery lake scenes, and jolted to a menacing red upon Danilov’s entrances. Without divulging the ending, for those unfamiliar with how the tale ends, the light team utilizes pure white and yellow tones to create an ethereal mood for the finale. The backdrop for each of the four acts were elegant and artful, especially the festive and colorful palace setting. The simplicity of the lake backdrop allowed for the mood to shift between somber and romantic with ease.

2254-1The traditional costume choices give the storytelling clarity for newcomers and aficionados alike. All of the choices are exquisite, with the iconic characters and scenes keeping with traditional colors and simple lines. This allows for the physicality of the dancers to be the focus as they ride the musical phrasing. Danilov’s prosthetics make a threatening visage, yet are not distracting. The swans are striking in minimally embellished, yet glittering costume. The renaissance inspired detailing and bursts of color in golds, browns and blues lend the palace scenes a vibrancy as well as a period feel.

Running Time: Two hours and 25 minutes, with one intermission.

Swan Lake ends its run today Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 2 PM at Hippodrome Theatre at The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center – 12 North Eutaw Street – in Baltimore, MD. Tickets can be ordered at the box office by calling (800) 982-ARTS or online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif


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Teresa McCormick Ertel
Teresa McCormick Ertel is a local writer, instructional assistant, and actress as well as board member for the Glyndon Area Players. She has experience both onstage and behind the scenes in productions such as Beauty and the Beast, Godspell, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, It’s A Wonderful Life, Wizard of Oz, and Oklahoma! Her favorite role would have to be Fruma Sarah, performed on stilts. She has also worked as an entertainment agent. A former Walt Disney World cast member, Teresa gave tours of the sound stage and production areas, and performed as an entertainer and puppeteer. With a background in English Literature and Education, Teresa enjoys marrying her love of writing and theater and interviewing actors and directors. She is thrilled to be writing her column 'Stage Write' for DCMetroTheaterArts.