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The Nutcracker - Moscow City Ballet - Lyceum Theatre

Published by: Paul Tyree on 7th Jan 2014 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree


The Nutcracker

By Moscow City Ballet

Lyceum Theatre - Sheffield

What oh what to say?

Undoubtedly there must have been people within the audience that enjoyed this, (although I can't think why) as they were clapping at the end, but I have to say that if ballet as an art form ever dies then it will be precisely this sort of production that finishes it off.

Poorly staged - three backdrops a bare stage but no set of any kind.

Poor costumes - the Santa and the Wizard costumes being the real lows of the evening. (Dumbledore lives, but Santa looks to be on his last legs!)

Horrible choreography - twirling and pointing but no connection to the story whatsoever. In fact if you don’t read the synopsis in the programme (assuming you’re wealthy enough to buy one that is) then you will probably be completely lost in the first five minutes.

Sloppy and half hearted dancing - one poor tall calumphing redheaded principle dancer could hardly get off the ground and at one point nearly fell over, causing a sharp intake of breath from the audience. Even the main characters were falling out of lifts and struggling to maintain holds and positions. 

Acting ability – none! Not one of the ballerinas whether male or female managed to express a real emotion throughout the entirety of the production. Your average 5 year old would have managed to convince more than this.

All in all this was without a doubt the worst ballet that I have ever seen and what made it so much worse was that the company all looked so bloody pleased with themselves, even though this was only ever third rate at best.

The first ten minutes of this ballet are probably an object lesson in not how to tell a story.

The must have been 25-30 people all dancing around interminably in crowd scenes, mugging and pulling various faces at each other without anything actually happening. In fact this theme of ‘just dancing around without a purpose’ carried on throughout the evening.

I am aware that this is probably what most people would define as a traditional ballet, but at various points there were up to 18 female ballerinas on stage with absolutely nothing to do. No purpose, no impact on the plot or story.

This style of ballet and indeed of choreography probably amazed back in the 1800’s but if ever any company needed to be brought into the 21st century then it is without a doubt Moscow City Ballet.

This was simply uninvolving and most damning of all utterly pointless. No one would have been uplifted or amazed. No hearts would have sung, no tears shed as the story was so vague and utterly without meaning or depth as to render the telling of it more of a history lesson than a reason to enter a theatre.

At best you could say the plot involves an old man trying to seduce a young girl with gifts and getting a bit upset that she still prefers to play with toys instead of him. (Admittedly, it’s not the most forgiving of interpretations, but if you didn’t know the story and simply watched this ballet then that is probably the interpretation you would have come away with).

Most galling was how the principle dancers expected applause whether their efforts deserved it or not. They came time and again to the front of the stage their self satisfied faces gleaming with arrogance and self congratulation that we had been lucky enough to witness their jumps or pirouettes. They even went so far as to have the curtain lifted for a second bow at the half, which caused me to stop and laugh at their sheer cheek as I was hotfooting it to the bar.

What oh what to say indeed!?


(This too is their 25th Anniversary – and on this evidence I would heartily advise that they don’t go for 26. Maybe time to hang up those tutus, have a vodka and remember the good times eh!)

On the up side this bunch of chancers must be the best advertisement for Northern Ballet yet!

Northern Ballet will be performing Cleopatra at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from Tue 25th – Sat 29th March. I haven’t seen it yet but on tonight’s evidence I can already highly recommend it. Northern Ballet – for when you want your ballet to touch your heart and make you glad you saw it!! Northern Ballet – for when you still expect a ballet to tell a story!! Northern Ballet – for when you expect great staging and costumes!! Northern Ballet – for when you want great choreography and ballerinas that can dance!! Northern Ballet – ballet for people who exist in the 21st century. Northern Ballet – (did I mention they’re on at the Lyceum in March) – Book now for Northern Ballet!!  Not sure I can make it any plainer than that.





  • Carolin Kopplin
    by Carolin Kopplin 4 years ago
    I've seen them at the Richmond Theatre several times but didn't think they were quite that bad. Sure, it's very traditional and seems uninspired at times but I really enjoyed their "Romeo and Juliet".
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Ooof! You didn't pull any punches, there, Paul. I'm glad you pointed out that you are not a ballet 'hater' and that there are great companies out there. Northern Ballet have an excellent reputation. Our reviewer in Aylesbury also enjoyed the tour of Moscow City Ballet's Romeo and Juliet. This, clearly, was not a good example of their work.
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