REVIEW: United Ukrainian Ballet Swan Lake

Concluding an inspiring performance of Swan Lake to a standing ovation and roaring applause, the United Ukrainian Ballet wrapped themselves in their country’s flag and chorused their national anthem in a testament to who they are and what they stand for.

There was an air of excitement at the opening night of Swan Lake in Adelaide, with many already anticipating a knock-out performance from the dancers. Split into three acts and four scenes, Swan Lake invites you on a spell-binding journey into a palace filled with celebration and love but shadowed in dark magic and deceit. We follow the love story between Prince Siegfried (Oleksii Kniazkov) and swan princess Odette (Kateryna Chebykina), as they face the brunt of the evil Baron von Rothbart who cursed Odette.

In the four sequential curtain lifts throughout the night, audiences were transported into the world of Swan Lake. The sets, of which, were suitably dressed in colours that were to foreshadow the story that was to take place in the scene. While Tchaikovsky’s music is timeless and beautiful, the performance could have done with a live orchestra, as the slightly-too-quiet recording occasionally interrupted the transcendental sensation felt through the crowd.

However, the stunning costumes distracted away from the music just from how breathtaking they were. A highlight was Odette’s outfit – perhaps the most classic and plain amongst the exquisite ballroom gowns and glorious patterns. Still, the austere simplicity allowed the audience to focus on every precise movement that Kateryna Chebykina made. And when Odile arrives to seduce the prince, the white is transformed to a brutal black, with red hidden in the tips of the crown to clue the crowd into her evil. Though Kateryna Chebykina could be wearing anything, and I would believe her as Odile. Her part in the pa de Deux in ‘The Black Swan’ was masterful, turning sweet and innocent when facing the Prince, and switching to sarcastic and narcissistic when turning to the audience.

The Corps de ballet was fantastically synchronised, a large feat for a Corp having only formed six months ago. The United Ukrainian Ballet, just as a diamond is formed under pressure, is made up of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their own country, all with a common language: dance. Bringing their rendition of Swan Lake to Australian audiences, they are demonstrating their act of defiance against war through the vocabulary of dance.

Reviewed by Jemma Jones