English Youth Ballet's Swan Lake

Tchaikovsky’s magical tale of warring swans gets a re-jig in this production that features 90 upcoming young dancers alongside professional principal dancers.

The action is moved to a theatre setting, with white swan Odette (Olivia Trevelyan-Richards) a dancer in a production visited by the Tsar and his son Prince Sigfried (Adam Ashcroft). The prince and dancer fall for each other but his father is not keen, and neither is theatre director Baron Von Rothbart (Oliver Speers), who connives to get his daughter Princess Odile (Lindsey Fraser) in line for marriage instead.

This mixing of front and back stage isn’t always clear, but given most ballet stories are surreal, magical, and largely ancillary to the dance, it doesn’t matter too much.

It does give scope for a large supporting cast of young dancers from dozens of dance schools across Norfolk and Suffolk. Throughout the opening night performance these youngsters barely put a foot wrong, showing a remarkable degree of talent and concentration through routines that, while slightly less dense than you might expect in a professional show, were nonetheless pretty demanding.

In some cases the understandable desire to give as many dancers the opportunity to perform meant the stage was a little too cramped. Some smaller group pieces really came alive – including the nicely comic Russian stagehands (Alfie-John Leopard, Harry Shawcross, and Thomas Underwood) and the Spanish dancers (Phoebe Cooper-Green, Alyssa D’Arcy, Bethany Dix, Deanna Leighton).

The design and lighting are less adventurous than the re-worked book, but rightly the focus here is on the dance rather than anything too clever in the production.

For a disinterested audience member it is an enjoyable production; for those on stage and their families, it is sure to be a memorable one.

  • Swan Lake continues at Norwich Theatre Royal with matinee and evening performances on Saturday, July 22, 2023