Entranced by the grace of Minor’s return

Swan Lake
Royal New Zealand Ballet
Regent Theatre
Thursday, May 30


The famed and arguably most adored ballet in classical repertoire returned to the stage after an 11-year hiatus.

Swan Lake is a ballet that captivates its audience from start to finish — RNZB you have done Russell Kerr proud. And what better way to welcome new artistic director Ty King-Wall. Swan Lake is, after all, the ballet that made him want to become a dancer.

This iconic fairy tale is a love story where true love conquers evil forces. Our central couple, Odette (Katherine Minor) and Prince Siegfried (Kihiro Kusukami), do not have the easiest of roads to their happily ever after, but this is a tale of hope, good versus evil, sorcery and deception, betrayal, heartbreak and ultimately true love is victorious.

The story opens with Prince Siegfried, performed beautifully by Kusukami, who is celebrating his birthday, but by his mother’s command he is going to be made to settle down with a suitable wife.

After a disappointing array of potential suitors, he enters the forest, where he encounters and becomes bewitched by Odette, performed by the delightfully graceful Minor. Her delicacy really emphasises Odette’s innocence. He has found his suitable wife. However, this bliss is short lived.

The black swan coda, where Odette is replaced by the imposter Odile, really allows Minor to show exactly what she is capable of and stretch her wings. Although she starts a little apprehensively, Minor transforms into an assertive and mesmerising seductress.

Her precision, fouettes, arabesques and penches were perfection. She never took her eyes off Siegfried and she had the audience both on stage and off entranced — exactly the result intended by the evil Rothbart, expertly performed by Josh Guillemot-Rodgerson.

Deception achieved, but only for a moment. Love will and does win, after all?

The dance of the cygnets is always a highlight — this did not disappoint. Rose Xu was a standout (across all of her roles in the performance). Ana Gallardo Lobaina is the new powerhouse of the company, her presence and exquisite technique will forever capture the audience’s eye.

Swan Lake is reliant on the corps de ballet though — their precision and synchronicity as the swans is magical and makes this ballet the masterpiece it is.

This production has gorgeous scenery sets and sumptuous costuming, from the villagers and children, to the prince and his mother and her friends, to the sublime, crisp white tutus of the swans and the show-stopping black swan tutu. The production team has delivered one hell of a show. I simply cannot wait for Midsummer Night’s Dream to see more from this amazing company.

Review by Penny Neilson