Birmingham Royal Ballet – Swan Lake at The Hippodrome Review

A stunning display of effortlessly polished ballet

Swan Lake is renowned for being one of the most technically challenging and demanding of the classical ballets, but the Birmingham Royal Ballet made it seem effortless. They filled the stage, they transitioned with ease. They glided, pirouetted and leapt with ease and definition.

Choreography by Sir Peter Wright asks for technically demanding steps and a need for stamina and power for the company to deliver, but… wow, did they deliver!

Ballet’s famous love story combining lust, desire, regret and despair has once more arrived to the Birmingham Hippodrome for its 2023 production. Birmingham Royal Ballet brings the story of Swan Lake alive with the grief-stricken and lost Prince Siegfried (Max Maslen) and his love-sick lust for Odette (Yaoqian Shang) who has been cursed to spend the majority of her day as a swan.

I could not take my eyes off of Principal Dancer, Shang, every time she was on stage. Stage presence oozed out of her in an effortless display of pristine footwork, perfect steps and facial expressions that added so much value to the storyline. She transformed seamlessly between her two personas, Odette and Odile, with her body language and facial expressions being two completely different personalities.

Principal Dancer, Maslen, showed impressive strength on stage. He is a wonderful lead and demonstrates the character of the Prince well whilst portraying the difficulties of the situation. The chemistry between Maslen and Shang was incredibly endearing and enough to pull you into the storyline.

Alert and springy in the first act Pas de Trois in Act I contrasted brilliantly with The Black Swan Pas de Deux in Act III which was an incredible spectacle with dramatic cohesion. Executed brilliantly by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, roars of applause filled the Hippodrome. The Spanish dance was a personal favourite of mine during Act III. Act IV was as dramatic as you’d hope for in Swan Lake with an epic fight scene, stunning swan formations and special effects which combined together to perfectly tie up this beautiful ballet.

A tremendous musical accompaniment is delivered by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia brilliantly led by Joana Valentinaviciute and conducted by Philip Ellis. The musical accompaniment provided an elegant display of delicate to thunderous, threatening pieces which provided a stunning collaboration of the arts.

lauren sitting in the birmingham hippodrome holding the swan lake programme

I was invited to Swan Lake by the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Learn more about Birmingham Royal Ballet and find out about future performances here: Birmingham Royal Ballet (


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