Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Dawn and Lucy take a trip to Norwich Theatre Royal to see Matthew Bourne’s latest production of Swan Lake

Sir Matthew Bourne is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographers and Swan Lake is probably his most iconic production.

After shaking up the world of dance in 1995, the show was controversial and received mixed reviews. Now though, it has undoubtedly become an inspirational and legendary ballet.

Opening in Norwich on Tuesday night, Matthew Bourne’s iconic Swan Lake received a well-deserved standing ovation from a full house. 

The history of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it is based on the Russian romantic ballet Swan Lake, set to a beautiful score by Tchaikovsky.

A young Prince, desperate for his mother’s affection and reluctant to wed, attempts to take his own life, but is stopped by a vision of a Swan. These visions and desire for affection continue until imagination turns dark. Mental turmoil and heartbreak end the Prince’s life, only for death to reunite him with his lead Swan. 

My favourite scenes take place by the lake – when we first encounter the swans. Traditionally a female corps de ballet would be floating beautifully en-point in elegant tutus. Instead, a shaven-headed and bare-chested, male ensemble showcase strength and masculinity. Their menacing stares and aggressive sounds are at times hauntingly captivating.

Win tickets to see Ballet Central in Norwich

Twenty years ago, the pas de deux between two male characters/dancers was criticised. However, I believe audiences are now thrilled to see such artistry and diversity on stage. The contrast of the Prince’s sensitivity and tenderness with the Swan’s strength and power was brilliant and as their story grew you could feel the change in their energies and feelings. 

The stage is set

The costumes and sets are stunning. The Palace scenes are crisp and white creating a cold and clinical feel, while the contrasting scenes are awash with red for a sultry and sexy atmosphere. The royal ball is clad with sparkling black costumes. 

The New Adventures cast execute skill and precision of ballet technique while maintaining the animalistic characterisation of the swans. It is fiercely compelling and a production you won’t forget – a dance classic brilliantly re-imagined. 

Read more: Romeo & Juliet

Swan Lake will play at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 6 April 2019 – a few tickets may still be available, please call the box office on 01603 630000 or click here for further tour venues.

Image: Johan Persson.


I'm Dawn and I've lived in Norwich since I was a child, but there's so much of Norfolk I've not seen or explored.However, I am very familiar with the theatre. Some might say it's my second home!Whether at Norwich's Theatre Royal, or the bustle of London's West End, I'm always excited to see a show...old or new! We're very lucky to have a range of theatres across the region, providing a vast selection of performances and productions.So, as often as I can, I will be sharing my theatre thoughts with you. Bringing you show reviews, theatre news and some interviews along the way too.

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