Festive Greetings to you all
and happy dance days in 2012!
London has gone Nuts this Christmas with lavish productions from both the Royal and English National Ballet as well as an irreverent alternative take from Matthew Bourne.

Still to come is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s version at the vast O² Arena in Docklands and the cinema showing of the Dutch National production. It is a tough time of year for those with a nut allergy! And to think that Tchaikovsky initially felt the ballet would not be a success…

James Streeter och Junor Souza i Wayne Eaglings Nutcracker. Fotograf Annabel Moeller

James Streeter och Junor Souza i Wayne Eaglings Nutcracker. Fotograf Annabel Moeller

The English Christmas tradition (mostly thanks to Charles Dickens) is a lavish affair and designers Julia Trevelyan Oman at the Royal and Peter Farmer at ENB has risen to the occasion creating sumptuous costumes, grand houses stuffed with decorations and a Kingdom of Sweets to satisfy the sweetest tooth, although I find Trevelyan Oman’s surfeit of cream and gold topped with blonde wigs rather too calorie laden.

Sir Peter Wright, who is responsible for both Royal productions, is a master story teller and in his capable hands the complicated tale is deftly handled and the mime sequence in Act 2, to that most beautiful of Tchaikovsky's melodies, is given full value.

In the ENB Nutcracker by Wayne Eagling from a concept by Toer van Schayk, Clara becomes the Sugar Plum Fairy and dances with her dream Prince while in Wright's version Clara remains a child and watches the Grande Pas (although she and Hans-Peter have the fun of joining in the divertissement). Wright also has a flight of Christmas angels to guide her on her journey while at the ENB a magical hot air balloon wafts her away.

Crystal Costa from ENB, made the most convincing transition in a performance that oozed happiness. Her wide-eyed wonderment reaching a pinnacle in the Grande Pas where she was beautifully matched with Yonah Acosta, a youthful and romantic Prince. They revelled in the virtuosity without losing the warmth.

Over at the Opera House Akane Takada teamed up with Dawid Trzensimiech both making their debuts this season. They proved a most elegant couple. Takada is as fragile as spun glass, but her precision is softened with a winning smile, while it was pleasing to see Trzensimiech, just one step up from the corps, holding the stages with an impressive presence. Clara, who has the more interesting role, was danced by Meaghan Grace Hinkis. She was utterly convincing as the little girl while displaying a formidable technique.

Matthew Bournes Nötknäpparen! Foto Sadler's Wells Theatre

Matthew Bournes Nötknäpparen! Foto Sadler's Wells Theatre

I do love a good English pantomime and Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! wickedly brings the extravagance of this traditional form into his production. It opens in the most dismal of workhouses where the orphans are chivvied into a veneer of Christmas spirit, and the excruciating sister and brother of the owner, played to excess by Ashley Shaw and Dominic North, hog the limelight.

This world literally falls apart and Hollywood glamour hijacks the proceedings. Skating routines á la Sonja Henie are trumped by an extravaganza of Busby Berkeley proportions. The terrible duo get the grand pas but it is little Clara, Hannah Vassallo, a tough cookie with oodles of charm, who gets her man in the closing moments.

The cast of cupids, sweeties, orphans and all perform with amazing vitality and for sheer entertainment, this is a hard one to beat.

Maggie Foyer
24 Dec 2011

Busby Berkeley (1895–1976) was an American film director and choreographer of extravagant dance numbers with dozens of dancers and extras – preferably glamourous young ladies.
Jag ville bara dansa
Dans i Nord

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