My family and I went to the Coliseum in London to see The Nutcracker ballet on 22.12.22. The ballet is a traditional, classical ballet written by Tchaikovsky. The ballet Company performing was the English National Ballet Company.
The Nutcracker is a fairytale-ballet of a child's imagination at Christmas. Clara falls asleep after attending a ball. She is given a Nutcracker toy as a gift from her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. Clara’s brother breaks the toy and there begins an adventure for all.
The ballet begins at a party with lots of dancing. Some of the cast were skating. I liked the way the director portrayed the Christmas party scene. The stage set was a beautiful period structure with lots of fine details. Seeing a hot-air balloon move in the air, across the stage, was amazing. If ‘magical’ was the vibe the director was looking for, it was brilliantly achieved. As an audience member I felt connected to the stage. For instance as it was snowing on stage it felt like the audience was in the falling snow too. The lighting also helped with the atmosphere. The choice of props were appropriate for the period and were used effectively throughout the story. For example, the Nutcracker used his sword, just as a soldier would. The Christmas gifts under the gorgeously decorated tree, were wrapped in keeping with the time period. Even the walking sticks for the elderly men kept with the style. The attention to detail had me and my family captivated all the way through!
In the beginning, the costumes that were worn by the adults and children were true to the time period, with lots of lace, fur, buttons, gloves and cosy velvet coats. The costumes in the dream scenes were very colourful, bright and sparkly - more imaginative. Clara wore a flowing white nightdress and this stood out against the brighter colours of the imaginary figures.
Overall, I felt The Nutcracker was a colourful, period piece of beautiful storytelling and when I compare it with the BalletBoyz performance, earlier in the year, I realised that BalletBoyz modern, pared back style suited their ‘slice of life’ realism and the Nutcracker’s exuberant, magical presentation fits comfortably in the imaginary world of the composer’s head.
The music score is very well known and it is what helps to make the tale so enjoyable. I observed that the movement of the dancers looked effortlessly connected to the music. Both flowed together and at times the effect was breathtaking. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s dance was outstanding. The whole audience showed their appreciation with claps and calls as the Sugar Plum Fairy finished her dance sequences. .
The Puppetmaster, Fritz and the Mouse King somehow managed to include humorous gestures and movement in their dance sequences, revealing aspects of their character and this delighted the audience throughout the performance too.
In contrast to this, the dark stage and costumes of the BalletBoyz created the right setting for a more grim, real life piece of storytelling. The music for their performance was modern, jazzy and moody.
Two noticeable differences between the modern and classical ballets I have seen is, as the name suggests, BalletBoyz is an all male cast and the Tchaikovsky ballets were a mixed gender cast. The Nutcracker was a large cast and there was much more movement on stage. Even when the dancers seemed to be dancing as individuals, the overall movement was unified. The audience didn’t lose a sense of cohesive storytelling.
For some members of my family, this performance was their first experience of going to the ballet. They reported back that they would definitely go again and this performance of The Nutcracker was a ‘great way to start the Christmas season…a fabulous performance.’ I agree!