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St Petersburg Classical Ballet of Marina Medvetska

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This is one of those seemingly endless small companies that come from Russia and tour the UK for a few months, presenting Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Copellia and Giselle in numerous regional theatres. I saw them presenting Swan Lake in Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Saturday night. Their website says the company was founded in 1996; I'm surprised that they have never popped up on my radar before.

If you go and see one of these companies, you know exactly what you will get and you really shouldn't expect any more. The dancers will usually be passable (but not spectacular), the sets will be simple, the stage small and as the repertoire is limited, the dancers know the steps extremely well, so it often appears as though they are dancing in their sleep.

With Swan Lake, you can be sure that the jester (so beloved by British audiences) will make an appearance (but not the tutor) and the happy ending will be presented. Tick on both counts.

There were two surprises in this production. Firstly, the entire score, and I do mean every last bit was there. There is usually a huge section missing from act 4 (I think it is sometimes referred to as Waltz for White and Black Swans). Secondly the Neapolitan as danced as a solo. The score was played by the Hungarian Sinfonietta Orchestra, and at times it did sound a little strange, probably because of the lack of musicians. I don't know how many musicians were in the bottomless orchestra bit of Symphony Hall - it was impossible to see.

There are only two of the twenty five dancers featured in the program Natalya Romanova and Petr Borchenko. I thought Romanova was quite good as Odette/Odile and there was a marked difference in her for each role. She really was a different person. Borchenko wasn't the Prince - he was relegated to Czardas and Vadim Lolenko was Siegfied. He was no where near up to the standard of dancer as Romanova.

Overall, I found it a pleasant evenings entertainment for thr first ballet of the year.

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