All-males swans back on stage

Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE. 15-12-2009
Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE. 15-12-2009

One of the most popular dance productions ever staged, Matthew Bourne’s groundbreaking version of the ballet Swan Lake, is coming to Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.

Returning to the iconic role of The Swan are powerful leading men Jonathan Ollivier and Chris Trenfield.

Jonathan Ollivier is a former star of Northern Ballet Theatre, was last seen as the mysterious Speight in New Adventures’ Play Without Words, while Chris Trenfield has starred as Leo in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty and will join the Swan Lake company on his return from the USA tour of that production.

Premiering at Sadler’s Wells in 1995, Matthew Bourne’s triumphant modern re-interpretation of Swan Lake turned tradition upside down, taking the dance world by storm.

Bourne blends dance, humour and spectacle with extravagant, award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston, to create a provocative and powerful Swan Lake for our times.

Now firmly crowned as a modern-day classic, this iconic production is perhaps best-known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble.

Matthew Bourne said he had no idea his ballet would achieve such longevity - it is the longest running ballet in the West End- but the first idea for the trailblazing interpretation was that of all-male swans.

“That had come to me watching the ballet long before I ever had a company or any possibility of doing Swan Lake at all; it was just a daydream,” he said.

“I remember being intrigued as to what that might do to the plot.”

Bourne wanted to tell the story in a different way, feeling that the Prince was yearning for something that to that point had not been explored and that maybe reflected the ballet’s composer Tchaikovsky’s onw life.

“The turmoil and violence in the music, that also suggested something much deeper than a lot of pretty swans in a row,” he said.

Although the all-male swans are what the show is remembered for, Bourne is keen to remind people that Swan Lake does not have an all-male cast, with some very prominent female roles.

He said: “That misperception you mention is so easy to say and it makes sense to everyone but I do have to correct it, obviously. For one thing I don’t want people sitting there thinking in the scenes with the royals that they are watching men in drag!”

The show is on from Tuesday 11th – Saturday 15th March. See