BATD ON Dec 17, 2013 AT 5:17 pm

by Annie Vischer

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Last night I felt there could be nothing more magical than taking up a seat red velvet seat at the London Coliseum as Christmas nears, and watching the curtain rise for the English National Ballet’s latest version of The Nutcracker. I took a peak up to the elaborate ceiling of the theatre before marvelling at the curtain in front of us, which was painted candy canes, dolls, toys and sweets. I clutched my programme and sighed in delight as the lights fell and the curtain rose. I am a girl devoted to escapism and ballet is one of my favourite kinds.

The first scenes of Wayne Eagling’s The Nutcracker introduce a young Clara and her brother within a grand house at Christmas time. We marvel alongside them at the work of the rather intimidating magician, the handsomeness of his nephew and the hilarity of a puppet show. An outdoor scene involves the dancers taking to their skates with remarkable nimbleness outside the house, whilst indoor scenes let the children involved in the production shine, all from Tring Park School of Performing Arts.

The anticipation for the beginning of Clara’s magical dream was palpable amongst the audience, and when the little dancer finally took to her bed, the magic began with the appearance of a rather menacing rat through the window. Clara fled and morphed into the English National Ballet’s lead principal, who took us through the rest of the production. We followed her as she floated away on a hot air balloon, fell in love with the Nutcracker and watched a Sheikh preside over his dancing subjects. The Waltz of the Flowers in Act 2 showed off the beautiful lines, timing and grace of the corps to perfection, and the partnership between the principal dancers taking on the roles of Clara and the Nutcracker was divine.

The English National Ballet took Tchaikovsky’s score and played it out in a production that enchanted, delighted and entirely swept away its audience. I was as sorry as Clara when the dream came to an end and she awoke, and as I watched the hot air balloon sweep past the children in the distance, I longed for the narrative to play out again.

The curtain rose and fell to the numerous encores called for by the beaming audience as the artists curtsied, bowed and smiled. I left the theatre with an inexplicable desire for a snowflake tutu, a toe-pointed spring in my step and a little bit of a crush on the Nutcracker himself.

The English National Ballet’s Nutcracker beautiful, and a treat we all deserve this Christmas.

The English National Ballet’s Nutcracker, at the London Coliseum until 5th January, call the box office on 0207 845 9300  or visit the website here.

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