The Bolshoi Ballet's recent behind-the- scenes turmoil is regrettably far more dramatic than the onstage action in former artistic director Yuri Grigorovich's Swan Lake.
He has taken liberties not only with the original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, but has also brutally reordered Tchaikovsky's majestic score. His Swan Lake is a psychological drama instead of an enchanted fairy tale, in which the iconic dual role of the ballerina is usurped by the conflicted persona of the male hero, Siegfried. The swans, Odette and Odile, are his fantasies; the Evil Genius his dark alter-ego.
While this offers a new perspective on the ballet which premiered in 1877, the narrative suffers in Grigorovich's rewrite. He has streamlined the four- act ballet into two acts, each with scenes alternating between reality and fantasy with quick, implausible transitions.
This Swan Lake is heavy on dancing as Grigorovich has deleted all of the mime scenes. But without mime, there is no back story. The Queen, who is given but a few imperious gestures, is not the critical mother who gives rise to her son's rebellion.
The first scene does not provide David Hallberg's Siegfried with any dramatic material to show the alienated dynamic between him and his world. Instead, he dances a pas de trois with the sprightly Chinara Alizade and Elizaveta Kruteleva, livening up the rather sombre celebrations. Hallberg is a physically wonderful instrument, but his purity of line looks out of place in a company characterised by flamboyance and fortissimo effects.