With around 55 dancers in its ranks (which is a small number by Russian standards), St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre has, in this part of the world at least, a relatively slender reputation and much of what it has rests on the star power of its reigning ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova. The company, however, is not entirely without form. Though it is not within the A-league of Russian Ballet, which remains the preserve of the Mariinsky, the Boshoi and perhaps the Mikhailovsky Stanislavski theatres, it has, throughout its approximately two decades of existence provided some of these companies with interesting artists while carving its own identity.

For starters, the company dances the Konstantin Sergeyev version of this hallowed ballet; which is, in so many ways, a most St. Petersburg-rian vision of dance. The production’s choreographic structure - the airy symmetry of the corps' patterns, the broad dimension of the dance, its glorious litany of national styles - bears the hallmarks of the Vaganova school. Here, dancing dominates, whittling down the mime, and all is elongated, expansive, proud and the poetic imperative of the dance both proclaims and tests a company’s pedigree.

On Thursday night, some of the elemental tenets of solid Russian training - pliant feet, supple backs, long lines - were evident in the company’s women; but much of the subtleties of Sergeyev’s staging -the noble carriage of the head and chest in the court scenes, the lyrical sweep of the white acts and the various inflections of the national dances of Act III - were lost on the cluttered confines of the Mastercard theatre and the dancers own seeming rigidity. The steps (all legs and feets) were largely shown with diligent synchronicity but the nuances of the upper body (arms and heads) were more variable. I did, though, enjoy Anna Samostrelova’s (first variation) elegant dancing in the Pas De Trois.

But if the company’s corps succeeded in places and not quite in others, Irina Kolesnikova as Odette-Odile was poetic at many moments and effective throughout. Kolesnikova’s classical line doesn’t always sing, but it has, in the way it seems to grow, from the proud lift of her chest through the lush power of her back, a lovely integrity.

Impressively she lends the white acts, which can be danced as pure ballet blanc a clear dramatic pulse. When she stretches into one of the initial supported arabesques in the white adagio, she twitches her head away as if in fear. At the end of the adagio she repeats the same motion, but if the first is an expression of something other than love, the later is clearly of the stirred heart; which makes the final swoon into side-bent - meaningful. The startled bourres, like stutterings of the heart, and the wild flapping of the wings were eloquent expressions of Odette’s confusion. And with the elastic fluidity of her arms and every supine twist of her agile spine, she made us feel Odette's heavy sorrow. In the lakeside variation, she alternated between single and double rond de jambe into développé à la seconde but it had in that fluid upward motion (with the head taken up) a gorgeous skyward exhalation. She shows too Odette’s exact moment of transformation back to bird form; when the rippling waves of a bird-woman metamorphosizes into the angular wings of a changeling swan.

There were also small things that I didn’t recall seeing in other performances of the same production. For example, when she lifts her arms in the supported turns, she allows one arm to spiral up the other, her head and chest surrendering beautifully to the torque of the movement. It is an image she repeats as Odile though, here, the bend of the arms is more serpent-like, and the torso held with tensile strength; resolute, implacable.

As Odile, her dancing was invested with glittering sensuality but at various points she turned what should be a pas de trois between Odile, Siegfried (Dimitriy Akulinin who was an unmemorable dancer-actor but competent partner) and Rothbart into a pas de deux with the audience. But Odile must seduce the prince first (and not the audience only) if she is to compel our belief in the story; in Odette’s tragedy, in Odile’s triumph and in the dualisms that reside in both.

When Kolesnikova returned to the lake she was beseechingly soft (somewhat incongruously, the recorded music was screamingly loud) and portrayed layers of the music and of the movement, such that no two similar phrases looked exactly the same.

So in sum, it's a performance that is enjoyable for Kolesnikova's dancing, especially her richly textured Odette. If only she had a swan flock to match.