Having prefaced this review with my barbaric lack of aesthetic sensibilities, I`ll also be the first to admit that Tchaikovsky`s Swan Lake managed to hold my attention if not my undivided interest throughout.
For the uninitiated, here`s the CliffsNotes version of the plot, as interpreted by your humble reviewer: Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, a princess turned into a swan by Rothbart, an evil magician. Rothbart tricks Prince Siegfried into falling in love with his own daughter, the black swan Odile. Odette runs away in grief, and Prince Siegfried purses her to the lake where they first met. The evil magician attempts to cock-block him and dies. Cue happy ending.
Anyway, the rudimentary plot doesn`t really matter. It`s all about showcasing the dancers` chops, and even a clueless pleb like this reviewer can tell that the dancing on display is undeniably beautiful. The dance sequences are wonderfully choreographed, with Kondaurova stealing the show in the dual roles of Black and White Swan. The camera work, while non-descript, is also understated enough for viewers to fully appreciate the ballet on display.
That being said, there`s a certain static quality that comes with watching a ballet performance onscreen, a deficiency at the heart of any live recording. Whether it`s a Coldplay concert or a Broadway show, stage performance never really lends itself to being recorded for cinematic release. The magical immediacy of live performance is sadly absent when replicated onscreen, and Tchaikovsky`s Swan Lake is no exception to the rule.
Tchaikovsky`s Swan Lake will prove to be a satisfying outing for ballet aficionados, but is unlikely to convert the rest of us plebs. If you`re not already appreciative of the dance form, watching a rerun of Black Swan may prove to be a lot more diverting.
Summary: Beautifully performed, but unlikely to make Beethoven roll over.