Maria Kuimova is technically and dramatically well suited to Swan Lake. She makes a mysterious, vulnerable Odette, and a seductive, glamorous Odile. She was partnered by Arkady Zinov, an aristocratic Prince Siegfried. Long pauses before he appeared on stage for each of his variations in Act III suggested he might be injured - there was no sign of it, but one variation was missing, and during the national dances, when the princesses from whom he is to choose a bride are dancing for him, he was off-stage until they were over. This could be the fault of the production though, because around a satisfying central performance it proved to be a cornucopia of oddities.

Sergei Bobrov has replaced much of the Petipa-Ivanov choreography with inferior dances of his own, though the most important sections are still more or less correct. He has also dispensed with the Queen's birthday gift of a crossbow - Moscow City Ballet is the only other company I have seen who omit it - which robs the story of logic. Why then does Odette indicate her fear of Siegfried rather than welcoming him as a potential saviour? And what has drawn the Prince to the lakeside if he hasn't gone shooting? This is 'solved' by having von Rothbart appear as a shadowy figure behind the Prince in Act I, magically drawing him to the lake. But why? Does he want to have his prize captive liberated? if not, what's his motive? Later, when Siegfried rushes in to find Odette in the last act, the swans' feathers have all turned black. How did they do this? And finally, the end has been changed. Von Rothbart and Siegfried die together in the lake (well, simultaneously, the production's not that odd!) leaving Odette grieving onstage amid her now-white-again companions.

I don't remember a better, more menacing von Rothbart than Demid Zykov. He is only 24, but has tremendous stage presence (he was a terrific Tybalt and Hilarion last year) and is potentially a virtuoso dancer, though such roles don't give him much chance to show it. Perhaps his slightly cruel looks preclude him from playing princes. Among the minor roles, Natalia Goroshko was enchanting in the Neapolitan dance, and, in the Hungarian, Anastasia Kazantseva was clearly a star in the making.

This evening and tomorrow the company is presenting The Nutcracker.