THERE are two words to sum up Moscow City Ballet’s Swan Lake – absolutely beautiful.
They are also a perfect description of prima ballerina Lilia Oryekhova’s dancing of Odette/Odile.
Her spellbinding performance at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre takes the audience on a magical flight of fancy.
This is a story of love, of betrayal, and ultimately of the triumph of good over evil.
It begins at Prince Siegfried’s 21st birthday party, when his aunt reminds him that coming of age means it’s time for him to choose a wife.
Unhappy at the thought of losing his freedom, he sets off with his friend Benno on a hunting expedition inspired by the sight of a flock of wild swans in flight.
Siegfried is enchanted by the sight of a beautiful white swan on the lake, which is transformed at night into a young maiden.
She is Odette, queen of the swans, held under the spell of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart, and only the pure love of a young man can break the curse.
But at his betrothal ball the following night, Siegfried is bewitched by Von Rothbart’s daughter Odile, who he believes is Odette, and asks for her hand in marriage.
The part of Odette/Odile is a hugely demanding one for the prima ballerina, who is on stage for two-thirds of the ballet.
Oryekhova never even seemed to draw breath during her mesmeric performance, so graceful and poised was her dancing.
Her arm extensions were such that at times it almost appeared as though she did indeed have wings.
She was supported wonderfully by principal Talgat Kozhabaev (Siegfried) and a cast of talented dancers, who made the whole performance a joy to watch.
The rousing crescendos of Tchaikovsky’s score, which bring the ballet to its dramatic end, were then matched by the thunderous applause of an enraptured audience.
Swan Lake is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, until Saturday 12th January. To book tickets call the box office 0114 249 6000 or go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.