Well worn as it is, "Swan Lake" holds up well. The Royal Ballet presented its own beautiful version of it last night at Wolf Trap complete with thunder, smoke, supernatural visions and the sorcerer from Von Rothbart appearing as a kind of demon choreographer. The other choreographers involved were Royal Ballet's Ninette de Valois, Frederick Ashton, and Rudolf Nureyev adding new layers over the work of the original choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
Whatever changes from production to production of "Swan Lake," the simplicity and eloquence of the group patterns in the white scenes, particularly the flocking formation, remain the trademark of this ballet and source of its lasting appeal.
Anthony Dowell was a triumphant Siegfried. The lines of strength and support that passed between him and his lady - Leslie Collier as Odette/Odile - were so strong they were almost visible. In Act Three, Dowell portrayed a Siegfried with the spunk to match Collier's spirited Odile. His Siegfried is not just some poor wimp who's had the wool pulled over his eyes by a designing woman, but a young man of passion and enery who is not whithout his own health dose of narcissim.
Collier is a strong, full-bodied dancer with a large torso and rather short legs. She's not the most ethereal of Odettes, but she managed to look startled and shy when necessary and performed with a smooth steady continuum of energy and great control. Particularly wonderful were her slow supported turns at the end of the Act Two pas de deux.
In this age of naturalistic ballet, the Royal Ballet is striking in the clarity and conventionally of its mime. They don't serve up a fuzzy waggle of arms; every gesture is gracefully formed and legible. Sometimes there's too much of it, but there's no doubt about what's being said.