Go jump in the Lac and forget Petipa

Go jump in the Lac and forget Petipa

Robert Tanitch reviews Lac at London Coliseum

There have been so many interpretations of Swan Lake. As the present title suggests, Lac is not for purists. Jean-Christophe Maillot, artistic director of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, sets out to show the Prince faltering between black and white, good and evil, innocence and eroticism.

He and Jan Rouaud, a Prix Goncourt winning novelist, have rewritten the story to produce something which connects to childhood fears and nightmares. There is a long and pretentious article in the programme which you can ignore.

Premiered in 2011 Lac is not romantic. It is a modern update but it doesn’t feel modern. It still feels like a fairy tale but without the poetry. It has a harder show biz edge. There are no lovely swans, no tutus; the corps wears feathered gloves.

Tchaikovsky has been chopped up, which will undoubtedly irritate many people, but the magic of the music still works. The production begins with an awful amateur home movie which gives the back story.

Normally one dancer plays both the White and Black Swan. Here there are two dancers. Anja Behrend is the White Swan. April Ball is the Black Swan. The Prince (Stephan Bourgond) is colourless and dreary. Much more interesting is his best mate (Jeroen Verbruggen).

There is no Rothbart. Instead there is Her Majesty of the Night (Maude Sabourin) squired by two archangels in jet black. For a final curtain a billowing black cloth covers the whole stage in cyclonic, twister-like fashion, a triumph for darkness.

The production, which mixes classical and modern dance, is notable for its energy. The show lasts just over two hours with a 20 minute interval. You should perhaps read the synopsis before the performance begins. I didn’t and regretted it.

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