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Swan Lake - Vienna Festival Ballet

Published by: Kate Braxton on 14th Mar 2017 | View all blogs by Kate Braxton

Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary score is so symphonic and dramatically charged, I find it impossible to tire of a Swan Lake experience. And the opening night of Vienna Festival Ballet’s production at Theatre Royal Windsor this week has managed to capture my imagination anew.

If anything, it was a slightly tentative and uncommitted beginning to this opening performance, which I believe was due to limitations of the theatre space, and perhaps not enough leg room for rehearsal. However, it is also a refreshing reminder of how grand an oeuvre this is, and how broad a global stage it has earned.

The corps from the Austrian ballet company, founded and artistically directed by Peter Mallek, last performed here in November with a beautifully right-sized production of Snow White. So it was enjoyable to watch the principle dancers return in quite contrasting roles.

The story centres around Prince Siegfried (Dean Rushton) who falls in love with Odette (Rachel Victoria Hernon), yet she has been transformed into a swan by the evil magician, Baron Rothbart (David Gutiérrez Robles). In order to regain her womanly status, a man must proclaim his undying love for her. Hernon’s delicate characterisation and exquisite sense of self is consistently eye-catching throughout the show. Rushton has the long-backed elegance to captivate the audience, yet disappointingly fails to visually express any identifiable emotion when they are in his hold. Robles, on the other hand, appears to grin from start to finish, with all the wonderment of a child whose stabilisers have just been removed.

Calculated mistaken identity threatens to thwart the happy ending, when Rothbart tricks Siegfried by presenting his daughter - a mirror-image of Odette- before him at the Prince’s betrothal party, where he must choose a wife. The wrong woman is courted, Odette appears, their love endures the curse and Rothbart dies.

The most enjoyable performance comes from Ashley Selfe’s natty little Jester, who springs about stage with popping personality, while the moonlit lake scene at the end of Act 1 is lit and choreographed into a deserving 'hero sequence' of the show.

Act 2 has a raised energy, and the Mallek mastery blends the production elements into a more characteristically cohesive Vienna Festival Ballet work.


Swan Lake is running at Theatre Royal Windsor from Monday 13th – Saturday 18th March 2017.

For tickets and information, see




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