Ballet Review: Swan Lake Remixed

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Presented by Emma Knights Productions and Impact Entertainment
Reviewed 15 December, 2017

Swan Lake is the archetypal ballet and the jewel of the classical repertoire. There have been many versions, some successful, some not so much.

Emma Knights (well known to Adelaide audiences for her productions on the iconic Popeye) had a vision of setting a condensed version of this classic on the River Torrens referencing the lake. This setting was not available so Veale Gardens was a clever choice.

I have seen many versions of Swan Lake, including the Imperial Russian version, however I am no snob when it comes to updates, so I was looking forward to seeing a totally different interpretation. Swan Lake Remixed works in many ways.

Firstly, the story – Emma and her co-concept creator Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti have wisely chosen to leave the story largely untouched so the viewer can easily identify with the narrative.

Secondly, the music, remixed by Emma Knights and Samara Gill. The main themes are still present but the arrangement has been bought into the 21st century. This gives some interesting takes on the original, but occasionally sounds like a party mix.

Choreography is all important in any dance piece and Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti and Thomas Brodie Phillips have wisely combined the expected classical ballet style with modern dance. They have also tailored the skill level to the cast and this ensures that every dancer is comfortable performing.

For me, two performers stand out: Kurt Benton (last seen in the Met’s production of Bye Bye Birdie) has the necessary grace combined with some unexpected acrobatics to realise the Prince. This role is often largely a support role, but Benton makes it his own. Thomas Brodie- Phillips’ Rothbart is commanding, particularly in the conflict scene with Odette and the Prince (cleverly set to the ‘Pas De Quatre’).

The rest of the cast, Erin Georgia Swanbury (Odette), Tanysha Sarti (Odile), Jayden Preic (Benno), Sahra Cresshull (Queen) have their own personal memorable moments. The corps are well drilled and obviously enjoy their role.

The costumes are an eclectic mix of semi-classical and modern and merged seamlessly.

My only real reservation with Swan Lake Remixed was the oversimplification of the famous ‘white act’ and the loss of some of the real drama of the piece largely due to the remix of the music. However, Swan Lake Remixed is an entertaining 60 minutes in a beautiful setting and an excellent way to introduce newcomers to a youthful version of Swan Lake.

Reviewed by Barry Hill

Venue: Veale Gardens, South Terrace Adelaide
Session: Until 16 December 2017
This was a free community event

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About Author

Barry is a temporary relieving school teacher by day and an actor/director in amateur theatre by night. He has worked for all the major amateur theatre companies in Adelaide, but works mainly for the Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company, Therry Dramatic Society and Tea Tree Players. He is also a kinesiologist.

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