IF YOU like your dancing faultless and your costumes spectacular then Swan Lake — performed by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia — is definitely the ballet for you.
The evening got off to a jolly start with conductor Anatoliy Chepurnoy popping his head above the orchestra pit to acknowledge the opening applause and encourage more.
The story revolves around the young Prince Siegfried and his doomed love for the beautiful Odette, whose lot it is to live as a swan, haunted by her evil father.
Georgii Bolsunovskii, in the role of the prince, is excellent and makes the most of the none-too-extensive Lyceum stage for his graceful, Baryshnikov-like leaps.
The prince’s friend Benno has Oleksii Skaliun dancing superbly in the role, managing to make it all look effortless.
The prince is drawn to the lake — which is shown by means of a dramatic backdrop — and encounters Odette, after first seeing her father in the form of a sinister crow.
The familiar music swells and Siegfried and Odette dance, including a very moving pas de deux.
Natalia Bobrova is superb in the role of Odette/Odile and her energy and grace are mesmerising.
The scene moves to the Grand Ball, where potential brides dance to try to win the prince’s favour. Cue colourful costumes for the Hungarian, Spanish, Neapolitan, Polish and Russian “brides”.
But Siegfried has fallen completely for Odette and is not interested in any of the young women.
The lighting becomes dark and sinister and we first see Odile, who arrives at the ball with her father, Baron Rothbart.
Believing Odile to be Odette, the prince dances with her — this time, her tutu being made of black rather than white feathers.
With the prince and Odile continuing to dance, the spectacularly fast moves of Natalia Bobrova won enthusiastic and well-deserved applause.
The queen announces that Odile will be her son’s bride, at which point Baron Rothbart’s disguise falls away, he is revealed as the devil that he is and Odile laughs in triumph.
Odette appears for the second time at the castle window in the form of a crowned swan and Siegfried realises the deception.
The action moves back to the lake for the final, dramatic scene, with the baron dancing with Odette and then the prince arriving.
In a moving, good versus evil scene, complete with stormy backdrop, Siegfried fights with the baron.
Waves appear and the prince, sacrificing his life to save his love, disappears into them, along with the tyrant raven.
So not a happy ending to the story, but a great evening of ballet for Sheffield’s theatregoers on a chilly January evening.
Swan Lake is at the Lyceum Theatre until tonight, while the Russian State Ballet of Siberia is also performing The Nutcracker until Saturday.