The Nutcracker – English National Ballet

The Nutcracker is a staple production to watch over the festive period and the English National Ballet’s revival is a wonderful way to start the Christmas festivities. Wayne Eagling’s Nutcracker is the company’s 10th production, showcasing the magic of the traditional Christmas time alongside the darker side of the Mouse King character.

The opening boasts playful skaters and a traditional party scene. Drosselmeyer works his magic with an array of tricks and illusion. Gifts are handed out to the children, including the Nutcracker doll, given to Clara, and the guests at the party keep the long-winded party scene of Act I light and entertaining. The young dancers are particularly enthusiastic and impeccably drilled, their timing was impeccable and the characters really shone out. Oscar Williams revels mischievous antics in his character young Freddie, while Sophie Carter’s young Clara is delightful to watch.

Act 1 continues with a battle as Clara dreams that her Nutcracker is attacked by an evil Mouse King. The living room is then magically transformed into a winter wonderland with the main characters escaping in a hot air balloon with the Mouse King clinging onto the side.

During act II the transition of Clara was performed by Shiori Kase, her performance was mesmerising. Her poise and effortless point work was outstanding which married beautifully with her presentation and expression. There were many lifts undertaken between her and the Nutcracker played by Junor Souza, each securely placed. In the course of the puppet theatre Drosselmeyer then introduced characters from around the world, the simple setting puts focus purely on each type of dance and a stand out performance for me was that of the Russian dancers led by Noam Durand. 

The puppet theatre disappears to reveal a beautiful garden where the Waltz of the flowers is performed. The sparkling dresses shimmer with each costume showcasing 400 Swarovski elements. After a delightful pas de deux Clara suddenly wakes up with a jolt back in her bedroom. 

There are some wonderful moments of dance within this ballet, teamed with Tchaikovsky’s renowned score and also touches of humour throughout to ensure a wonderful evening can be enjoyed by all.

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