Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake @ King's Theatre (Glasgow)

Review by Eric Karoulla | 11 Mar 2014

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, performed by New Adventures, takes the classical ballet favourite and turns it on its head.

By replacing the delicate swan ballerinas with half-nude male contemporary dancers, Swan Lake reflects Bourne's distinctive style in every way. From the grandeur of the immense set down to the detail on the costumes, and the feature-film duration of the performance, Bourne's version is undoubtedly designed to be entertaining. Not only does he use modern-day elements in the plot (e.g. his characters go clubbing and are followed by paparazzi) but Bourne also incorporates modern clubbing jives into the choreography, although of course, they are performed with a mechnical style that renders them quite unrecognisable and, at times, funny. 

For the ballet purists, the performance still holds elements of the original - for example, Tchaikovsky's music, and the fact that the dancer performing as the lead swan takes on both the white and black swan roles. The physical intensity of the part is visible both in the show, but also made extremely clear in the programme, as there are four different dancers taking on the role of the Swan/Stranger: Jonathan Ollivier, Chris Trenfield, Simon Williams, and Glenn Graham. 

However, for anyone who has seen Bourne's work before, there are no particularly new elements in this Swan Lake. Having seen both Highland Fling (Scottish Ballet) and Sleeping Beauty (New Adventures) last year, it seems the storyline can vary greatly, but there are similar themes that can be identified in all three works in terms of choreography and the interaction of the ethereal/mythical with the real.

Nonetheless, Bourne's style keeps bringing people back for more. With the Glasgow run of the tour sold out, it's safe to say he has an extremely loyal following and it will be interesting to see if this thirst for dance persists in Edinburgh's Festival Theatre in April.

Run in Glasgow ended Edinburgh dates: 22-26 Apr, various times, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, various prices.