Obraztsova melted into the purest, most sublime lines….
Guest Artist Evgenia Obraztsova made her debut in the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake last night partnered by the company’s equally stunning Australian principal dancer, Steven McRae. The pair danced previously in Romeo and Juliet during the 2013-14 season.
Personally, I do not admire the production, as it sets – particularly those of Acts 1 and 3 – seem to melt and overwhelm the stage, sometimes getting in the way of the dancers and limiting their movements. Furthermore, the circus-like costumes of the third act and the number of constantly-shifting bodies present on stage at times drew my attention away from what should have been the main spectacle.
However, the draw of last night’s performance was neither its sets nor costumes but rather the gorgeous Evgenia Obraztsova, a principal dancer with the Bolshoi in Russia. Obraztsova has been praised for her artistry and her interpretations of varying roles across a vast repertoire and her take on the Swan Queen is one that is not to be missed.
As the white swan, Odette, Obraztsova displayed arms so fluid they could easily be mistaken for water and melted into the purest, most sublime lines I have seen to date. Her Odette was tender, surreal and simply breathtaking – from the suspended moments of awe in the pas de deux to the heart-breaking, dramatic moments in the final act in which Odette jumps to her death. Apparent was the way in which she felt the music and reacted to it, particularly through the movements of her arms.
When she entered the ballroom as Odile in the third act, there was a notable difference to her character – as one would hope. Unlike Osipova, however, Obraztsova did not opt for an energetic, obviously evil Odile, but rather came across as sly and wicked. Her Odile, for me, came together at the end of the coda when she sank into hair-raising cambre that screamed relief, knowing she had achieved her aim and won the doomed prince’s heart. She ended it all with an evil laugh upon his realisation of her trickery.
Although Swan Lake is, without a doubt, a ballet that flaunts the lead female, Obraztsova’s partner, Steven McRae, cannot go without mention. Though given little dancing in this ballet as compared to others, McRae doesn’t let that stop him from dazzling the audience when he can.
McRae’s variations never fail to amaze me and are always ten times better than any other I’ve seen. His jumps are high, his timing impeccable, and his character as dramatic as the music demands. It will be a thrill to see him in La Fille Mal Gardée with Osipova during the Spring Season.
Also of note were Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Mayara Magri and Marcelino Sambé in the pas de trois of the first act. Magri in particular flew across the stage impressively and Sambé awed with soaring jumps and spot-on turns… as usual.
Obraztsova and McRae will dance together in Swan Lake on 25th March. The production will continue to run until 9 April, 2015. For tickets and further details visit the website of the Royal Opera House.