PRODUCTION: Elizabeth Triegaardt

CHOREOGRAPHER: Vladimir Bourmeister

CAST: Members of Cape Town City Ballet and The Cape Philharmonic Orchester

CONDUCTOR: Graham Scott

VENUE: Artscape Opera House

UNTIL: April 20

RATING: ****

OPENING night of Cape Town City Ballet’s production of Swan Lake belonged unquestionably to Laura Bösenberg, whose dual intepretation of Odette/Odile confirms her status as prima ballerina of the company.

Lustrous in solo as well as pas de deux with her well established partner Thomas Thorne, Bösenberg combined impeccable musicality with sound technique and dramatic intensity, the latter an essential quality to convince in the contrasting personae of White Swan and Black Swan.

As Odette, she is demure and diffident, switching to bold and manipulative when donning the flashy black costume of Odile. Her Odile smile is pure evil, the power of her personality offering a foil for the meek and gullible Siegfried (Thorne). It also contrasts tellingly with the collective primness of the four rejected princesses, featured in a row as glum spectators of her pyrotechnic dancing.

Swan Lake is a ballet replete with opportunities for dancers to show their prowess in cameo appearances and short bravura inclusions like the Pas de Trois of Act 1 and the array of national dances in the Third Act. Kirstel Jensen, Kim Vieira and Jesse Milligan do not disappoint in their bright, confident performance of the Pas de Trois, while neat execution of the Neapolitan by Elizabeth Nienaber and partner Alexander Vivian-Riding add verve to the action of Act 3.

Among the secondary characters, Xola Putye is excellent as the sinister Van Rothbart, and Craig Pedro’s Jester stands out; this dancer brings leggy athleticism to a part that is often undermined by excessive clownishness, and although he is playful he keeps the persona elegant, as one would expect in a habitué of a court.

Strong ensemble dancing is a significant factor in the success of any production of this ballet and the CTCB corps rises to the challenge. Mathematical precision from 32 feet as the 16 swans glide through their repertoire is a pleasure to behold and the female ensemble of eight in the opening sequence of Act 1 is irreproachable.

The same cannot be said of their male counterparts, whose synchro-nisation leaves something to be desired. As usual, the graceful spectacle of the waking swans in Act 4 is one of this ballet’s memorable tableaux. The four cygnets are suitably appealing, but look grim, as though their dance is not something to be relished.

Still, this is an auspicous start to the season of a company celebrating 80 years of survival and success.