EDINBURGH Playhouse opened its curtains to an unusual performance of Swan Lake as dancers were poised with ice skates rather than ballet pumps.
The production of Swan Lake on Ice is the second to come to Edinburgh from artistic director Tony Mercer but the award-winning show features new choreography, effects and costumes.
And the show takes to the stage just as Black Swan, featuring golden globe winner Natalie Portman, is set to hit the big screen in the UK.
The film has received controversial reviews across the pond for portraying the ballet world in a bad light as Natalie Portman plays an anorexic, schizophrenic ballerina who battles to play both sides of the leading role in Swan Lake.
Tony Mercer, artistic director, said that although he has not seen the film yet there can be some “extreme” moments in the life of a dancer.
He said: “I’ve only read the reviews and I’ve read some of the articles and I think the story there is really portraying the life of a ballet dancer as opposed to trying to touch the story of Swan Lake.
“The things that I’ve read so far are slightly controversial. The fact is to be a ballet dancer or to be an ice dancer, yes it’s very very hard but how much of that has been glamourised or altered by the film I don’t know yet.
“Ice skaters start when they are three or four years old. There is a lot of time, a lot of dedication, there is a lot of pain that goes into it but then the same with ballet dancers they have to go through a hell of a lot to get to where they are.
“I think it just shows dedication sometimes, yes there are some extreme moments.”
In Tony Mercer’s interpretation of the classic tale, the same dancer does not play both the white and the black swan which he believes gives more clarity to the story.
He said: “I think people come along to the theatre and look at different interpretations. I’m not necessarily sure that people have a 100% idea that they’re going to see this. I think by separating the two characters you get far more clarity, you get a far more logical story.
“What you’ll see is something very different if you think you’re going to come along and think you’re going to watch Swan Lake as usually performed by dance companies.
“You’ll see Swan Lake as it was meant to be under the control of the composer and you’ll see a wonderful version of it danced on ice.”
The production of Swan Lake on Ice features The Imperial Ice Stars made up of 26 World, European and National Championship skaters, who between them hold more than 250 competition medals.
The skaters have performed to almost three million people across five continents, at some of the world’s most prestigious venues including Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre and Montreal’s Place des Arts.
Olga Sharutento, who plays leading lady Odette, said: “We took the whole story in a slightly different way and I think it’s a very interesting way and a very interesting interpretation.
“I think that just because we are all professional figure skaters it is different to the ballet and as we took a very well known ballet story.
“At the beginning Tchaikovsky didn’t intend it as ballet story so I think we took the music and we took the figure skating and we get to the theatre which is unusual to combine all these things together but it has so many different layers.
“It has the speed of the figure skating it has elements of figure skating but it still has dance and the performance and elements of the story itself. “
Olga is no stranger to dancing on ice as she starred in the first series of ITV1 show Dancing on Ice and skated with John Barrowman.
She said: “It’s an amazing programme. I think in the UK figure skating is not treated in the same way like we have in Russia because it’s an incredibly popular sport in our country.
“Every child goes and tries to skate and here it’s not the same and I think this programme brought figure skating to the people. It’s beautiful to watch and very interesting to try.
“The programme was very, very beautiful. I enjoyed myself, I enjoyed working with John and also Chris and Jane, our heroes.
“I’m looking forward to watch it this year.”
Leading man, Andrei Penkine, who plays the prince, said: “It’s a very nice production and I’m very proud to be inside of it because it’s a very nice combination of figure skating and theatrical things.
“Edinburgh is a very nice city with very old nice architecture and very nice land structure. It’s a very nice city, but not very warm.”
Swan Lake on Ice is showing at the Playhouse until Saturday and tickets are available by calling 0844 847 1660 or by visiting www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk.