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Hannah Isherwood watched Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells.

Matthew Bourne’s mucho-male reworking of the ballet about a troubled prince and his swan was back where it all began, having made its debut at Sandler’s Wells in 1995 – and what a homecoming. There were modern tweaks here and there, but the basic staples of ill-fated love and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score were always going to stand this popular reimagining on the shoulders of giants. Add a stage-full of real-life Billy Elliots (in my head anyway) and it became almost breathlessly emotive.

The sheer power of the male swans, particularly Will Bozier in the lead, was mesmerizing, and towards the latter stages of the second half I even found myself getting anxious that it might actually end (and despite my best efforts to keep the ensuing ovation going into eternity, it did ultimately have to stop). It’s a contemporary, classical, funny, brutal, and captivating take on a classic tale, and if The Clerkenwell Post did star ratings I’d award it a thousand of them.

Little Billy Elliot done good (x20).

Post-Sadler’s Wells, Swan Lake is now touring the UK, with stops in Milton Keynes (29 Jan-2 Feb), Birmingham (5-16 Feb), Bristol (12-16 March) and more besides. Find full listings detailed at


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