When Matthew Bourne controversially introduced an all-male corps de ballet, eyebrows were raised at his daring.
Fifteen years later, it seems entirely natural and beautiful to forgo the tutus. Unlike dainty ballerinas, these testosterone-fuelled swans are packed with personality. Menacing, masculine and a perfect combination of strength and grace, the way they move their bodies to replicate necks, beaks, wings and feet is extraordinary.
Richard Winsor, last seen at the Hippodrome as Dorian Gray in another Bourne production, is absolutely mesmerising from his first appearance as the swan with whom the Prince (Dominic North) falls in love.
Their first pas de deux is strong, seductive and scintillating, while Winsor oozes sex appeal when he takes human form as a dark and mysterious, leather-trousered stranger who gatecrashes the royal ball.
Bourne adds witty modern touches, such as a pet Corgi and a mobile phone going off on stage. And the dance of the four gawky cygnets is a comic delight.
Tchaikovsky’s lilting, haunting music underpins all this athletic beauty, although purists dislike the way Bourne has tampered with the score.
Ultimately it’s an emotional piece, especially poignant when the Prince tries to elicit feelings from his chic but icy-hearted mother (Nina Goldman), who refuses to touch him, and in the final, heartbreaking act. Powerful stuff.
Winsor is a real name to watch out for, especially as he’s now breaking into the world of film. Look out for him as the male lead in the exciting new British movie StreetDance, with its dazzling routines filmed in 3D.