As a special pre-Christmas treat, Sarah Yeneralski our Review Editor, took her daughter Sophie to see the English National Ballet’s Nutcracker. They were both entranced by this magical performance.
Although I was looking forward to seeing ENB’s Nutcracker, I was slightly nervous about whether Sophie would last through an entire ballet. At just seven years old I was worried that a full length ballet might be too long for Sophie. We had really enjoyed My First Ballet but at 2 hours 15 minutes long ENB’s Nutcracker was a different proposition.
However I need not have worried. From the time we entered the London Coliseum to the last pirouette, Sophie was spellbound. Although the Coliseum has a no under 5’s policy, the atmosphere on the Saturday matinee performance was very family orientated. There are relaxed performances available where there are no age limits so if you have under 5’s then check the website for these tickets. Either the children attending the Saturday’s matinee were seasoned theatre goers or they were captivated by the Nutcracker magic. Sophie was certainly dancing in her seat and told me that the ballet was “encouraging people to dance.”
The ballet opens with magical snow scenes and we are welcomed into Clara’s family party on Christmas Eve. Part of the reason I feel that this particular ballet appeals to a younger audience is the number of younger dancers in these first scenes. The story of the Nutcracker seems to be one which captures a child’s imagination and appeals to both boys and girls alike. As the story unfolds and we are in turn introduced to the different characters, Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music weaves its spellbinding magic until the very moment when the familiar tinkle signals the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. In this production the older Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy are the same dancer, which did confuse us momentarily. But as soon as we heard those magical strains of music we knew for sure that the eagerly anticipated dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was to begin.
Some of our favourite parts of the ballet were the various dances performed in the puppet garden by different dancers from around the world. The dancers representing Arabia, China, Russia and Spain each perform their own unique style of dance. Each of these dances is accompanied by beautiful colourful costumes and were met with rapturous applause from the audience. Sophie enjoyed the change of pace for these dances and also the chance to clap along and move around in her seat to the music.
This colourful enchanting production of Nutcracker will surely be the perfect pre or post-Christmas treat for families. Artistic Director Tamara Rojo hopes that for some visiting this may be their “first encounter with ballet, and I truly hope that it will inspire a curiosity to discover more.” I would say that it has certainly inspired Sophie who will be dancing her way towards Christmas.
English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is at the London Coliseum until 7 January 2017.