The Moscow Festival Ballet delivers impeccable technique, enchanting with airy lightness and perfectly matched footwork in ensemble segments throughout Elena Radchenko's "stage version" of Tchaikovsky's and Petapa's original Swan Lake.
The first act bristles with fine miming to advance Prince Siegfried's daunting challenge to choose a bride within the next 24 hours and thus assume the throne. In the change from "leaving behind the whims and caprice of youth" we witness the merriment of young people who come and go against the more somber pushing by the Queen Mother [portrayed with exemplary sense of authority] and the Prince's Tutor [providing both bombast and humor], with the amazingly athletic Jester bridging the worlds of youth and coming-into-power.
Unfortunately, this strong sense of drama dissipates in the following three acts, leaving one to marvel at the dancing and puzzle out how what's happening on stage fits the program description of action. It's best to simply to settle in and enjoy the gorgeous turns, leaps, lifts and swoops and perfect placement of each dancer's arms, hands, head, neck, feet and body. And be prepared for an unexpected ending if you've grown accustomed to the 'way it's usually done.'
When one patron described her surprise at the ending to me, her point was that this version took us into a whole different story and she needed to think about how that changed the impact of the ballet as a power-play between good and evil; love and lust; promise and disappointment. I last experienced Swan Lake at IU Ballet Theatre, where the drama and 'the expected' storyline were more emotionally forthright.