Prima ballerina Irina Kolesnikova is a mature and beautifully lyrical dancer, tall and willowy, with long limbs and an exceptionally pliant spine.

She's been dancing the joint roles of Odette (the Swan Queen) and Odile (the Black Swan) in St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's Swan Lake since 2001 and it is a great pleasure to experience her dancing.

She is internationally acknowledged for the delicacy of her swan-like demeanour and is a major drawcard.

The company's 20 female corps de ballet, dancing as the Swan Maidens, provide the frame for much of Kolesnikova's dancing. They move together as a scrupulously disciplined ensemble in the varied patterns and groupings which are a hallmark of this much performed classical ballet.

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The two leading male protagonists, Dmitry Akulinin (as Odette's suitor, Prince Siegfried) and Yurii Mirov (as the sorcerer/master Rothbart), are technically adept dancers who move with precision and vigor, providing sure partnering.

Rothbart is fierce and passionate, strongly motivated by his power over others, and all macho musularity. The Prince, by contrast, is slim and finely-featured with aristocratic bearing, but aloof and self-contained, and it is difficult to believe he is desperately in love with Odette/Odile. A third male dancer, (Radion Isyanov), who bounds about the stage in repeated leaps and spins, impresses as the Jester.

The costumes are elaborate, with detailed embroidery, the requisite sequins and jewels, and elegant tutus for the swans, but Tchaikovsky's famous music is recorded, the stage set is minimal and the lighting straightforward though with red hues whenever Rothbart is in action.

The choreography is strongest in Act 4, which ends with the final face-off between Siegfried and Rothbart. In this Act, the musicality of the dancing, the lyricism of the music, and the clarity of the underlying narrative are unified and the happy ending is remarkably satisfying.

Where & when: Aotea Centre, ASB Theatre; until January14
Reviewed by: Raewyn Whyte