St Petersburg Ballet Theatre firmly rejects fanciful attempts to bring the world’s favourite ballet up to date and what a huge relief that is.
Mind you, the company cannot go far wrong with Irina Kolesnikova in the dual role of the loving Odette and the wicked vamp Odile.
Not only does Kolesnikova sport a stunning classical technique, alone worth the price of a ticket, but she has the dramatic power of a Maggie Smith or Judi Dench, effortlessly convincing a house full of devoted balletomanes that white is black and vice versa.
At last Wednesday’s opening night Denis Rodkin danced Prince Siegfried and effortlessly proved that you can be a support for a ballerina and fill the role of hero and romantic lover; he also possessed a stunning technique.
Bolshoi Ballet-trained Rodkin, able to bring the house down with his virtuoso brilliance, was the ultimate romantic hero. Gentle and loving in his partnering, his quiet confidence and faith in what he was doing was the perfect foil for this production.
The sets were romantically baroque and huge but Nikolai Shlein’s lighting had the trick of making the stage look colossal. Even so the corps de ballet of swans – there must have been 30 of them at times – filled this space handsomely.
The only character who did not reach us with any strength was Dmitriy Akulinin’s villain Rothbart, who cursed Kolesnikova’s Odette into a bird. Dressed in black, he merged too much into crowds and scenery.
But it is the high quality of the company’s dancing that makes the evening so memorable.
Kolesnikova almost leaves the orchestra behind when she spins like a top to confuse Siegfried, while the two famous duets between them mark this company as something special.
The Russian dancer’s white swan duet with her man is vulnerable, tentative, but full of hope and growing love. Irresistible.
Her sexy black swan dance glitters and flashes as she seduces him into betraying those same emotions. Sensational and not to be missed.
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre London Coliseum, WC2 (Tickets 020 7845 9300/ londoncoliseum.org; £20-£95)