From Podcasts to Percy Pigs, our ‘List of Likes’ embraces the high and the low brow (and everything inbetween). Here’s what we have enjoyed watching/eating/drinking/wearing/listening to . . .
I’ve always been frightened of swans. When I was growing up, swans were, according to my family folklore, to be avoided at all costs. They were violent, vicious and if provoked could ‘break your arm’. Never ever was I warned that one day, one might break my heart.
This week for the not very princely sum of twenty eight pounds (the kind of sum I might easily drop when popping out to Waitrose for a pint of milk and accidentally picking up a basket of odds and sods I didn’t even need), I saw a spectacle so breathtakingly rare and beautiful, and of such remarkable grace, athleticism and artistry, that it will remain in my mind forever.
If you always thought Swan Lake was just a load of frou frou tutus, think again. Matthew Bourne’s production is a singularly ‘male’ production, in every sense of the word. The dance is muscular and grunting; the contortions of the man-swans so exuberant and tiring that their muscles glisten in the gloam of the foresty set; and their macabre and teasing interactions with Dominic North’s febrile Prince, totally hypersexualised. And it’s utterly spellbinding.
Whatever the opposite of anthropomorphism is, the bevy of swans in this production nail it. Their collective presence on stage wearing nought but their naked chests and feathery pantaloons, backs arched, arms a-fluttering and necks a-stretching, and their shaven heads painted with sinister black mohican ‘bills’, represents an entirely different kind of menace to the one I was warned about as a child.
It is one of those performances where you spend equal amounts of time with belief suspended so effectively that you are entirely convinced that yes a homoerotic love affair with a swan is entirely plausible, as well as being simultaneously fascinated by the practical machinations of the performance itself: how do they make the water ripple suggestively in the moonlight? Wait… were the men hiding in the bed all along during the nail biting finale? Is that dress the queen’s wearing made of silk…? and oh god I wish I could move like her…
It was my first experience of ballet. And as far as I’m concerned I feel already able to very confidently assert in the future, if it’s not Bourne, I’m not interested