Introducing ourselves – and our children – to new experiences is a great way to not only understand more but to find more that we can enjoy in life.
As a novice to the ballet, this was not only my first visit to see The Nutcracker live, but the ballet in general – and with a young dance enthusiast in tow.
Two of the major draws of The Nutcracker are that it is suitable for all ages, and it is a truly festive experience. If you have thought about going to the ballet but never got around to it, this is a good place to start.
With the Moscow City Ballet holding court, this production at The Regent Theatre, in Hanley, will have been just as attractive to seasoned fans, appreciating the different approaches to a traditional fairy tale ballet.
This retelling of The Nutcracker from the popular Russian company is immersive and engaging from the start. A festival of colour and movement from an early point, the stage is filled with dancers creating a feast for the eyes as the guests celebrate Christmas Eve at the start of act one.
Following the famous story of Clara Stahlbaum, The Nutcracker recounts the story of how she finds herself in a dream world where her favourite toy, the nutcracker, fights a mouse king and turns into a handsome prince.
The fantastical storyline is relayed through various settings – at the start Clara’s home is all dressed up for Christmas with the guests dancing below a giant Christmas tree. After her godfather, Drosselmeier, has entertained the Christmas Eve guests with mechanical toys, Clara falls asleep only to find herself walking through a fairy tale existence where the Nutcracker goes into battle with the Mouse King.
Emerging victorious he transforms into a handsome prince and Clara finds herself enraptured in a snowbound pine forest. From here they find themselves being entertained by flower fairies and are celebrated by dancers from around the world.
Simple changes in an artistically rendered backdrop meld with the costumes to simply but effectively provide the atmospheric setting for each scene. The icy hues of the dancers filling the stage amid the snowy forest is particularly effective.
Through each scene the towering figure of Daniil Orlov dressed up in a magician’s cloak brings a palpable sense of eerie magic. Orlov’s charismatic performance often dominated the stage, perhaps even more so after he was unmasked and free to dance as a younger man.
As the wide-eyed Clara, Ksenya Basnet brings a true sense of wonder to her performance, adding to the sense of fantasy the story aims to convey, while her dancing is touched with a lightness that is a joy to watch.
Combined with the strength and skill of Dzimitry Lazovik as the Nutcracker prince, the duo’s dancing through the second half allows them to showcase their ability and reflect the timing of the famous score.
With an orchestra in the theatre to play Tchaikovsky’s famous music accompaniment that was composed specifically for the ballet, the evening offers a double helping of classical entertainment to brighten up a January evening.
There is certainly something special about watching The Nutcracker and the well- honed skills of the Moscow City Ballet performers make sure this is an atmospheric treat that delivers a welcome dose of festive enjoyment.
With a magical theme to hold the interests of youngsters, and a warm nostalgic atmosphere that is welcome to everyone, The Nutcracker is a festive outing for all to enjoy.
Watch The Nutcracker at The Regent Theatre until Wednesday, 22nd January.