I’ve often thought that what the London Coliseum desperately needs is the sound of Icelandic singing superstar Bjork blasting out from the stage across the magnificent, grand auditorium with a heavily influenced dub-step beat. What, just me then? Well if you can even begin to imagine this then you’re closer to gaining a glimpse of what I witnessed the other night at one of the city’s most luxurious locations. Swan Lake, the ballet of ballets, and perhaps even one of theatre’s most celebrated spectacles. has been re-imagined for a wider audience, combining the beauty and elegance of the traditional with a thoroughly modern and breathtaking form of street dance and hip-hop.
Whilst the Coliseum is usually host to a variety of stunning shows brought together by ENO, Swan Lake Reloaded has been created by Fredrik Rydman and his visiting company. Its extraordinary vision has seen the show tour Sweden and sell out Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg among others, as well as heading to Paris and St Petersburg in the upcoming months. Rydman, a ballet dancer turned street dancer is quite the celebrity in his native country as a judge on Scandinavia’s first series of So You Think You Can Dance and, quite brilliantly, choreographed the opening number at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. But don’t let that put you off, for Swan Lake Reloaded is guaranteed to be unlike anything you have ever seen.
The moment Rothbart (Daniel Koivunen) appears on the almost completely pitch black stage, save for shocks of white lightening, a ripple of excitement and intense awe can be felt across the room. Rothbart is traditionally an evil sorcerer though the role here has been altered to a pimp and the swans, prostitutes. The way Koivunen moves just leaves you open-mouthed, forgetting everything but that single scene which you wish could continue forever. Much of the choreography continues in the same vein, particularly from protagonist Prince Siegfried (Robert Malmborg) and his friends (Alexandro Duchen and Kevin Foo) where the hip-hop is at its peak and I couldn’t help but move in my seat to every popping and locking that bounces off the stage in a state of urgent energy.
The moves are impressive and the costumes colourful throughout, but by the half way point I was ready for something new to happen and for my attention to be perked up. The moment Siegfried meets the heroin-addicted prostitute, Odette (Maria Andersson) seeing her almost scratch her arms apart under the show’s specially conceived and very powerful soundtrack came at the perfect time and was so breathtaking, so moving that I just forgot everything.
Surprisingly, hilarity ensued when many were expecting an interval as the curtain came down, lights came up and Siegfried’s mother (Gabriella Kaiser), still in character brought out a list of qualities she wanted in the much sought after daughter-in-law (8-9 stone, 5ft 7 etc) and off stage she pranced, collecting an unsuspecting man from the audience who looked close to a heart attack. Alas she let him go after a minute, poor thing.
The finale was just epic as the stage became nothing but a shell, completely stripped back save for the backstage lights and Siegfried, Odette and Rothbart fought to a tragic end. An elderly man, presumably familiar with the original Swan Lake let out a gleeful shriek and clapped happily as the final extraordinary moments occurred. What more can I say?