Review: Swan Lake ballet in Dubai

What the Moscow Royal Ballet's performance of Swan Lake was supposed to look like. EPA/STR
What the Moscow Royal Ballet's performance of Swan Lake was supposed to look like. EPA/STR

The first (and incidentally last) time I went to see a ballet performance was always going to take some beating, writes Kevin Hackett.

London’s Royal Opera House was the venue, my wife was my plus-one and we were guests of a friend who had made sure the red carpet had been rolled out for us.

I can’t even recall what the ballet was but my wife was transfixed and that’s all that mattered to me. We were in the most palatial surroundings, dressed up to the nines and enjoying some old fashioned culture – it was quite a night.

So when it was suggested that we take my visiting in-laws to see Swan Lake being performed by the Moscow Royal Ballet at Dubai’s Trade Centre, I immediately agreed.

With tickets for the final performance in hand (Dh350 each), once again dressed up for the occasion, we filed into the auditorium to take our seats half an hour before curtains up.

Sorry, did I say “seats”? What I meant to say was “glorified park benches less comfortable to sit on than a bed of nails.”

If we’d stumped up twice the asking price for our tickets then we could have had what’s loosely described as a comfy chair but, seriously, I’ve attended cattle auctions in venues more glamorous than this.

And to make matters worse, the makeshift arena’s sloping sections were so gentle in their decline that it was nigh on impossible to see beyond the head of the person sat in front of you.

The net result was that, swapping seats with my wife so she could at least get something of a view, I was left with the vision you see in this photograph.

View of Swan Lake

Kevin Hackett's view of Swan Lake ballet

I did get to hear the orchestra’s performance (truly excellent) and, when the (normally proportioned) gentleman in front chose to lean forward – no doubt to allow some much needed blood to circulate within his buttocks – I did get to see some brief on stage action. My wife assures me it was excellent. Perfect, in fact.

But the venue left neither of us cold. Rather, it left us boiling with incandescent rage and determined never to attend another performance if it was going to be held there.

While neither of us expected anything quite so opulent as the Royal Opera House, the fact that Dubai is bereft of decent venues for the performing arts is a real shame and should be addressed as soon as possible.

That, then, was the first (and understandably last) time for the Trade Centre. As soon as another, more appropriate venue opens up in the UAE, we’ll be taking our dirhams and buttocks there instead.


Published: May 15, 2013 04:00 AM


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