This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at:
Music: Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov
The Public Reviews Rating:
Since its premier in 1892 The Nutcracker has become arguably the most well-loved work in the classical ballet repertoire. Signalling the start of the Christmas season, this little gem arrives in Lanarkshire in the form of the State Ballet Academy of Belarus. Based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King it tells the story of Marie, a little girl whose Godfather gives her a nutcracker as a gift on Christmas Eve. As she drifts into sleep the nutcracker transforms into a prince who takes her on a magical journey to the Sugar Plum Fairy’s land of sweets.
Featuring the timeless and highly recognisable score from Tchaikovsky and Petipa and Ivanov’s original choreography The Nutcracker is the perfect first ballet for children. And so it proved with the many young members of the audience, charmed and captivated by the youthful dancers, chocolate box backdrop and glittering costumes.
While the principles are of universally excellent quality, in particular the young artists recreating the roles of the Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy, young Marie and Drosselmeyer, there are fluctuations in the quality of the supporting cast, the males faring less well than the females; their stamina and acting skills both needing work. That said, the young dancers are in the early stages of their training and each is well on the path to a promising, professional ballet career.
The famous set-pieces; the Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian dances are executed skilfully and raise the biggest applause of the evening, but the performance truly comes to life when the full company dance together. The performance is accompanied by pre-recorded music and at times, rather stark lighting, and a little atmosphere is lost in the less than perfect acoustics, but nothing can erase the charm of Tchaikovsky’s music and the enthusiasm and dedication of these young dancers.
This production of The Nutcracker is a charming and magical start to the pre-Christmas festivities and the perfect introduction to ballet for young children.