It wouldn’t be Xmas without the Nutcracker and the English National Ballet’s version is the ultimate sparkling festive treat. The luxurious production dazzles from the moment the curtain rises on the young Clara and her nephew Freddie (performed beautifully by Sophia Mucha and Emile Gooding, both from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts).
We follow the youngsters to their family’s grand manor house covered in snow, as their friends roller skate across the stage throwing snowballs and frolicking festively. The scene and superb set sparkle under an illuminated visual projection of snowfall that makes the audience ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhh’ in delight.
As we join the party, the cast of young dancers from Tring and English National Ballet School are joined by the outstanding company artists dressed in decadent turn-of-the century gowns and top hat ‘n tails. The ball is beautifully choreographed by Wayne Eagling, with glorious waltzes accompanied by the future generation of young dancers who are given their moment to shine under the glow of the Xmas tree. The presents are handed out and Sophia and Emile perform a sweet playful flight over a Nutcracker doll that beaks in two, but all is well as the doll is magically repaired and they head to bed awaiting Xmas morning.
As Clara goes to sleep in her beautiful blue room, a big scary evil mouse climbs through her window and chases her off stage and when she runs back on Clara is transformed into the lead principal dancer Jurgita Dronina. From the moment Jurgita stands en pointe and bourrées across the stage, we know we’re in for a truly magical night. Jurgita performs beautifully with Fernanado Carratalá Coloma as The Nutcracker flighting and defeating the naughty mob of mice. The evening really takes off with the arrival of the sparkling snowflakes that provides a pure classical delight with their glittering crowns, tutus and pointe shoes as they brilliantly perform to Tchaikovsky’s famous score.
Act II is an indulgence of dance as we’re transported to the puppet theatre and dazzled with a Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian ensemble that are hypnotising and met with rapturous applause. Eagling’s choreography enables the male cast to shine with difficult leaps and multiple pirouettes that take centre stage.
The famous Waltz of the Flowers is a real treat, the splendid corps de ballet in full bloom dressed in pink floating tutus creating a bouquet of flowers accompanied by a troupe of dashing men. Together they perform joyously, perfectly hitting the arabesques, lifts and grand jetés in formation, each line of dancers straight, each extension and balancé perfectly timed.
The ultimate dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy set the stage alight – Jurgita and Aaron Robison electric, their pas de deux as impressive as their sparkling diamond encrusted costumes. Jurgita and Aaron are practically flawless and together in this famous piece they’re awe-inspiringly beautiful. As the stage filled for the finale, the entire company sparkles as bright as the Xmas star atop the tree, delivering a perfect Xmas experience for family and friends to take into the London wintery night.
Reviewed on 14 December 2017, London Coliseum.