Swan Lake

Candia McKormack takes her five-year-old daughter for her first taste of the ballet...

Swan Lake

Candia McKormack takes her five-year-old daughter for her first taste of the ballet…

It’s difficult to describe the excitement of going to your first ballet. I still remember vividly going to the theatre when I was very young; sitting high up in the dress circle, completely entranced by the bright costumes, dramatic lighting and dancing that seemed of another world. The ballet was La Fille Mal Gard�e, and the mad clog dance still seems oh so fresh in my memory.

My five-year-old daughter Carmen’s only experience of ballet has been a handful of books on the subject (including one of my sister’s old dog-eared Ladybird guides) and oft-repeated episodes of Angelina Ballerina (the adventures of an animated dancing mouse, don’t cha know).

When I mentioned to Carmen the idea of going along to see Swan Lake together – just the two of us – at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, she at first looked a little bemused (what, real people; not dancing mice?!) and then very excited.

The production was by the Rudolf Nureyev Russian State Ballet with the original score by Tchaikovsky. We watched entranced as the curtain went up and the stage came to life with the wonderful dancers. I had briefed Carmen on the plot prior to the performance so she could follow what was happening; there’s a lot going on – at one point I think I counted two dozen ‘swans’ – and it’s easy to get a little lost along the way.

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The court jester, played by Murasov Iskander, was an incredible dancer, and probably performed some of the most breathtaking movements of the evening; leaping high into the air with apparent ease (though I couldn’t help imagining the years of hard work and bleeding toes that he must have endured to look so effortless).

Prince Siegfried, played by Shakirov Dinar, was perfect in his role as the love-struck hero, being confused and coerced by the attentions of Odette, the enchanted swan princess, and Odile, daughter of the evil Von Rothbart, both played by a stunning Sattarova Sabina.

At times I sneaked a glance at Carmen’s face as she gazed transfixed at the stage and it reminded me of how I felt on my introduction to ballet.

A wonderful mother/daughter bonding experience and one I think we’ll both remember for a very long time to come. 

Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ, tel: 01242 572573, www.everymantheatre.org.uk

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