Matthew Bourne brings a new twist to the classic favorite ballet of all time, “Swan Lake,” now in its run at the Ahmanson. He artistically brings his own interpretation and imagination to the characters of the Prince, the Swan, and the Swan Queen. Dancing these roles are James Lovell; Will Bozier; and Nicole Kabera, respectively, who bring strong technique and distinctive moves into their performance. A clever conceit is that the ballet starts out as an ordinary classic ballet, filled with the classic pas de trois, and by act one’s end, evolves into a ‘ballet within a ballet,’ as the guests sit on the sidelines watching the swans take form and spring into life. This technique is much like Clara watching the Nutcracker magically appear before her eyes. The men, though strong and agile, dance and prance onstage with delicate birdlike fragility, transforming from ducklings to elegant white feathery swans. Of note is costume designer (Lez Brotherston), mesmerizing the audience to every movement in step the swans take. The wintry white feathers and plumes add a dreamlike stance to this sequence. The choreography is exquisite, as the reigning male dancers seamlessly weave their way through a most creative rendering of the original Swan Lake.
Matthew Bourne manages to add some comic relief and levity to an otherwise quite serious production. The masquerade scene was, without doubt, the highlight of the show, with the dancing full of personality throughout. The lake sequence is majestic, and the synchronized movements and choreography suggest mystique and romance in one. Matthew Bourne was quoted, when creating his original version of Swan Lake, “ I wondered what it would be like to use male dancers and bring out the swans’ aggressive, muscular side.” He, in fact was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, in his portrayal of the swans. As always, Tchaikovsky’s score is a masterpiece, the performance, powerful, the dancing, impeccable; overall this show makes for the consummate holiday treat, sure to ruffle your feathers.