Photo: Annabel Moeller
On the London Coliseum stage, English National Ballet dancers move about in an array of brightly coloured leg warmers, oversized jumpers and padded warm-up boots. They are preparing for the penultimate full run-through of Swan Lake before it opens on Friday. Familiar emerging dancer faces are hard at work; Nancy Osbalsden, in a pretty cream tutu, rehearses her steps; Ksenia Ovsyanick stretches her foot with a resistance band.
The curtain closes, the orchestra tunes up and rehearsal begins. Begoña Cao commences the dancing, being transformed into a swan by evil magician Rothbart against a background of dramatic lightning flashes. The rest of the company then rehearses the ballet's remaining choreography, with sweat dripping from dancers as company repetiteur Rosalyn Whitten calls out corrections from the auditorium.
Daria Klimentová, who dances the lead role of Odette/Odile in Sunday’s performance, stated: “The Tchaikovsky music is gorgeous. I like it more and more as I mature and grow into it. The Black Swan role is very exciting but I worry about the 32 fouettés. After the very tough controlled balances of Act II, there is the flashy pas de deux of Act III and just when you’re completely exhausted, there are 32 pirouettes to do and you have to make it look easy!”
Swan Lake is full of excitement. The mass of white swans moving in graceful unison are wonderful; Act III character dances from a tambourine-shaking Neapolitan couple to deep Spanish backbends are similarly great. But undoubtedly the ballet’s highlights are the pas de deux for Prince Siegfried and his Swan Queen Odette. The choreography’s beauty and lyricism combined with Tchaikovsky’s incredible score makes this an unmissable ballet.