A Nuanced Triumph – Swan Lake
After months of lockdown David Nixon’s Swan Lake heralded the re-opening of Leeds Grand theatre last night, with an emotionally charged and nuanced performance that enthralled and enraptured an arts hungry audience in equal measure.
This stylish production, set to visit just three venues this season, was as much for the performance starved cast as it was for the public: both were on a night out!
There were so many emotions running through this dramatic if slightly controversial piece, billed by Nixon as a ‘unique interpretation’, with themes of homosexuality, loss and guilt driving the performance from start to finish.
Conflicted, confused and riven with guilt at the loss of his brother when they were both playfully young, Anthony, danced brilliantly by Joseph Taylor, carries the guilt of his sibling’s death for the rest of his life.
His regretful mother (Antoinette Brooks-Daw) knows that she is responsible for her surviving son’s mental anguish, whilst best friend Simon (Lorenzo Trossello) seeks to comfort him and, in doing so, attracts the jealousy of wife-to-be Odilia (Abigail Prudames) still eager to capture Anthony’s heart.
This interpretation of Swan Lake, set to the masterful music of Tchaikovsky, is almost smothered by the emotion of regret: Anthony loses is brother, a mother her son and a male suitor says goodbye to his potential homosexual lover, as his never to be partner falls into the arms of a woman: all to satisfy the needs of a stultified, conservative society.
I loved the subtlety of this performance. Nixon has been prepared to examine a controversial theme – love between two men - using the vehicle of a classic ballet as his means to do so. And yet, he never crosses a line. So much is implied: the perfect unity of two men dancing; the ‘almost’ kiss that never happens. It is subtle to the end.
And the dancers? Brilliant.
Joseph Taylor and Lorenzo Trossello danced as though their lives depended on it, whilst Abigail Prudames in the dual roles of Odette and Odilia was elegance and mystery personified.
The supporting cast, too, brought youth and vitality to a performance that was long overdue, and the ultimate tonic for a socially distanced audience that simply wanted to be there, to cheer and applaud. They did.
Swan Lake, Northern Ballet
Leeds Grand Theatre
Until June 26th