Christmas is full of festive traditions and going to see The Nutcracker is one of the highlights. Wayne Eagling’s marvellous production for the English National Ballet is a wonderful treat for adult and child alike, supported by stunning designs by Peter Farmer and magical lighting by David Richardson. Tchaikovsky’s musical score never fails to delight with its power to transport the audience into the dream world of The Nutcracker.
The ballet is rounded with Clara’s sleep and it is into her dreams that we are taken. Her wonderful imagination , influenced by the magical excitement of a Christmas party, creates the story that unfolds before us. Dr Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks, the glamour of a military young man, puppets, presents, and romance develop into the most sublime of dreams. The terrifying but highly entertaining Mouse King, performed by Shevelle Dynott, looms over many scenes, asserting his mischievous presence, flying across the stage at one point attached to the bottom of a hot air balloon. Choreographic highlights include the creatively crafted battle scene, going much further than the typical contrast between hyperactive mice and ordered lines of soldiers. Many a laugh is achieved by mouse trap cannons firing destructive blocks of stilton or the wonderfully comic cavalry charge. In the second Act the audience is entertained by the divertissement of dances with highlights from the polished strength and elegant flexibility of the Arabian dancers as well as the lively Chinese trio. The two main corps de ballet sections, the Snowflakes and the Waltz of the Flowers, are both choreographic gems, the shapes, patterns, and elegance supported by stunning scenery.
Erina Takahashi as Clara dances with grace and lightness, enchanting us with her transformation into a princess dressed in glittering jewels in the second act. The pas de deux with the Nephew, performed by Mathias Dingman, is a beautiful moment – graceful, uplifting and charming ballet. The young Clara, performed by Sereina Mowlem from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, is excellent with very polished technique and wonderful confidence. In fact all the young dancers from Tring Park dance with true professionalism, maintaining consistent dramatic engagement with their roles.
Part of the magic of this traditional ballet is the visionary delight created by the costumes. Swarovski elements encrust tutus and tunics and an abundance of colour adorns the stage. 400 costumes were made in total for this production with over 3,000 metres of material used. Splendour, magnificence, and charm are the reoccurring words to describe this ballet – expect to be delighted and leave the auditorium with your children believing that little bit more in the power of dreams.