Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Nutcracker

Every since I was small I have loved The Nutcracker.   My mum had an old copy on video and I used to watch it at Christmas; it was one of the sure signs that Santa was on his way.
Everything about it screams of the yuletide festivities and the music by Tchaikovsky will instantly take me to a romantic winter dreamland where toys come to life and snowflakes dance.  The fact that I am writing about this in April must seem very odd then!

For Christmas this year, mum got me two tickets to see the Russian State Ballet and the Orchestra of Siberia's touring production of The Nutcracker at The Marlowe Theatre in March.  
Steve was certainly not interested (not really his thing) but I knew that Claire would be (she is a classical ballet buff) so invited her to join me one very cold Wednesday evening after work.  The show was part of two productions that the Company were touring with; The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and friends of mine in the area would be going to see both.  One of my colleagues commented the next day that they had been waving madly at me from the stalls but I was completely oblivious in the Circle!
Choreography in this production was by Vasily Vainonen and Sergei Bobrov with the full orchestra conducted by Alexander Yudasin.  From my position in the Circle I had a brilliant view down into the orchestra pit and some of the percussion instruments being used were like nothing I had ever seen before.

The entire ballet was just magical.  It opens at the Christmas Eve party where the children play games with the magician and Marie and Fritz receive their presents.  The touches here were lovely, with the children coming to and from the party wearing capes dusted with snow and throwing snowballs at each other.  The changing of the nutcracker into a lifesize doll was masterfully performed and the dancer remained as a life size doll for longer than normal, only changing into a full prince at the end of the act.
The Dance of the Snowflakes was one of the high points for me, and I loved their cone hats and snowballs dangling from their costumes; it was a different spin on a classical costume that I hadn't seen before and added some more personality to this production.
It has been a long time since I have seen a classical ballet production, having seen mainly modern dance interpretations in recent years.  You would think that I would have grown out of the childish desire to be a ballet dancer (despite the fact I hated my lessons) by now, but seeing the Waltz of the Sweets always rekindles it in me.  The Arabian Dance was particularly beautiful, using fabric reminiscent of a Dance of the Seven Veils to add movement and grace to an already beautiful performance.  The Tea Dance (Chinese) had all the fun, energy and vibrancy you expect from it. 
The one major criticism with this production?  There was no Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!  This is such an iconic part of any Nutcracker production and I am utterly bemused as to why they left it out!  The music was played, but Clara danced to it instead.  No idea why they chose to do this.
It did feel very strange to be watching The Nutcracker when it wasn't Christmas, but the magic and wonder of the show is still enough to spellbind you, no matter the time of the year.
All images were sourced online (apart from the images of the Marlowe Theatre which are my own) but original photography credit could not be found.  If you know who should be credited for the ballet images, please let me know and I will add it.

If you like (or hate!) what you have read, please do let me know in the comments below or slap me with a cheeky follow, or say Hi to me on my Facebook group or Twitter or Instagram!