Moscow Ballet: Swan Lake at the State Theatre


I saw Swan Lake at the State Theatre back in March and I do not recommend seeing a ballet there, for a couple of reasons.

There was no orchestra for this ballet. What a pompous comment, I know, but they are important and here’s why. Instead of an orchestra there are speakers in place at either side of the stage, and all the music is played through them. These speakers loudly hum and crackle from time to time throughout the performance, and it was very off putting.

The next issue with the speakers is that I think the music track for each piece must be individually started and stopped, and as a result the dancers were often out of sync with it. Or, rather, the music was out of sync with them. It must be hard enough to be a professional ballet dancer (staying in character, working with costumes and props, focusing on your technique and movement being perfect…) without having to worry about whether someone will press a button at the right time. So sometimes the music started, then they would, and sometimes they would start and after a few seconds it would play.

Moscow Ballet Swan Lake

The backdrops were pretty and the costumes were intricate and stunning. The swans glittered and moved gracefully, as did the ones playing people. I honestly don’t know enough about ballet to comment about the dancing, other than to say that I thought it was wonderful.

The other issue I had with the State Theatre hosting the ballet is that it doesn’t have great seating. Usually seats are staggered, whether with height or put in a kind of brick pattern behind people- e.g. so that you are sitting and looking through the gap between the two people in front of you. Where I was sitting, I was stuck directly behind the huge, bald head of a man who thought it was acceptable to keep talking to his girlfriend throughout the performance. I had to sit with my neck strained to the side to see properly. That, and there were children behind me who were too young to be at something like that, because all they wanted to do was talk through it as well!

So a combination of poor sound quality, synchronisation, seating quality, and shitty audience members made this ballet at the State Theatre really brought down what could have been a great night

When I saw the Nutcracker there last year it had been much more enjoyable- I had been slightly closer to the stage with correctly alternating seats, the timing was better and the speakers were a little bit better.

So it can be quite nice, but if you are forking out hundreds of dollars for a ticket, you should expect more than that.