Exciting, spectacular show

10 Sep 10 - Canberra Times, Australia - Roslyn Dundas

Just as the weather gets warmer, the temperature at the Canberra Theatre has dropped. Maintained at a temperature of minus IS degrees, a 13m by 13m ice rink has been set up on the stage.

The Imperial Ice Stars of Russia, more used to the North European climates then the wattle-tilled spring of Canberra, are using it to stage the spectacular Swan lake on Ice.

While the temperature may feel cool, the performance is warm and exciting. Swan Lake on Ice has a bit of everything - sword fights, fluorescent swans, evil bad guys, a humorous sidekick, chandeliers, snow, fire and a working fountain, even flying swans. The performers usually skate on a slightly larger stage and were still adapting to the space on opening night.

The staging is rich, with various set changes and sparkling costumes. While much has been changed or adapted from the traditional ballet for the ice skating rink, Tchaikovsky's original music remains and provides a stirring score. The passion of the music translates well, with ice skaters able to spin and move in ways ballet dancers cannot.

A great example of this is the fatuous Dance of the Little Swans, where four performers dance in unison. Working on skates, the swans show great fluidity but maintain the core harmony so important to the piece. There was also a delightful scene where the skaters, unable to escape from the swishing and scraping noises that are part of ice-skating, used a break in the music to play up the fact this wasn't a typical ballet - carving and cutting up the stage with some noisy tricks showering the front rows of the audience with ice.

Swan Lake does traditionally focus on the swans, however it was the male leads who were standouts in this production. Vadim Yarkov plays a suitably creepy Baron Von Rothbart, to almost pantomime levels - encouraging the audience to boo and hiss at his dastardly plans. Prince Siegfried, performed by Andrey Penkin and his loyal friend Benno, played be Rusla Novoseltsev, were superb - bringing great energy and pizzazz to the performance.

Penkin and Novoseltsev are on stage for most of the performance, with their skill and love of skating clearly on display. Swan Lake on Ice is an exciting performance. While staying true to the grace and passion of the Swan Lake story, the Imperial Ice Stars revel in the fact that, on ice, they can do so many things traditional ballet cannot.

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Upcoming show dates

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Nutcracker on Ice