Saturday, 17 June 2017

REVIEW: EYB Swan Lake at Sunderland Empire

Swan Lake
Sunderland Empire
Until Saturday 17th June 2017

With a cast of approaching 100 young local people taking to the Sunderland Empire stage, this was always going to be an ambitious production. With a small number of professional adult dancers in principal roles there was the correct tone to the show. With youth on its side the tale had energy.

Seniors degage devant during the audition - Photo Ben Garner
The preparations of the show locally began back in March with an audition of over200 young hopefuls for a part in the show. The cast were coached by English Youth Ballet’s 8 international principal dancers who also danced the leading roles in the performances. After just 11 intensive days of training, the successful dancers put on a highly credible performance.  

The audience is clearly made up of family and friends plus dance fans. The fact that the show has drawn a crowd that may not be regulars to theatre, let alone a ballet, makes the show very special.

Set in Russia in at the time when the Marinsky Ballet was popular with the Tsar and the Russian nobility, Baron Von Rothbart, Director of the Russian Ballet schemes to secure Royal patronage through the marriage of his daughter Odile to the Tsar’s son. Odette is eventually betrayed in this famous ballet which leads to a tragic and dramatic end.

The sets, designed by Sebastian Petit illustrate the contrast between the beautiful Act 2 Lakeside scene and the glamour of the Tsar’s Palace Gardens in Act 3.

Keith Bish’s colourful costume designs enhance the visual effect of many of the big dance scenes. Coupled with intricate choreography, the sight of seeing 100 dancers moving at once helped you appreciate the scale of the achievement of this show.

The notes in the programme are a handy read before the show if you’d like to understand the development of the story. The show quickly moves through a number of scenes, each giving the groups of performers a chance to show their skills. It is impressive to see each group interact with one another and with the principal dancers. The principals themselves also get their moment and they are an inspiration for the youngsters as to where their dedication and hard work can take them.

The EYB team including the teachers, choreographers and back stage crew, are to be congratulated for both enabling these young dancers a chance to shine on the big stage of a beautiful theatre in an entertaining show. The dancers are to be congratulated for their commitment and hard work - you should be proud of yourselves.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Tickets for performances from Friday 16- Saturday17 June 2017 are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at*
*Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

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