THE audience whooped, hollered, clapped and cheered for so long you'd have thought it would never end.

They gave a prolonged standing ovation to the cast of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, on tour this week at the Bristol Hippodrome.

This is contemporary dance at its finest - giving a modern twist to a ballet that was first performed as long ago as 1877.

Matthew Bourne's original 1995 version sparked controversy with its emphasis on homo-erotically charged male dancers taking over the traditional female corps de ballet roles.

This new production is utterly brilliant, breath-taking and mesmerising in its ingenuity, imagination and focus on the tiniest of detail.

I've never been to a ballet that has so much happening on stage all at the same time. I found it absolutely outstanding.

It’s no wonder the touring production, which Bourne first created in 1995, is billed as ‘the legend returns’ on the Bristol Hippodrome posters and programme.

Twenty-four years later his Swan Lake is still entrancing audiences with its clever choreography, amazingly athletic dancers, stunning sets and Tchaikovsky's superlative music.

Bourne delivers a sassy show with scores of light comic touches, including a walk-on toy dog, as well as the dark, brooding and tragic tale of lost love.

Bourne and award-winning designers Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable have tweaked the show for this tour but Swan Lake retains the iconic elements of the original production.

Special mentions go to Dominic North, who is engaging as the lonely young Prince who desperately wants to be loved, and also to Katrina Lyndon who plays his unsuitable girlfriend to comic perfection.

There is also a wonderfully brilliant performance by Nicole Kabera as The Queen but the stand-out dancer of this production is Will Bozier as The Swan/The Stranger, whose amazing energy and athleticism steal the show and gains most of the applause.

It's also worth mentioning the intensity of the all-male swan ensemble, as they stamp, kick and hiss their way across the stage.

The lengthy standing ovation the whole company received on Tuesday evening was thoroughly deserved.

Swan Lake is on at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, March 16. It's a must-see show, so buy a ticket if you can get one.