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The Nutcracker - Vienna Festival Ballet at Theatre Royal, Windsor

Published by: Kate Braxton on 8th Nov 2017 | View all blogs by Kate Braxton

The Nutcracker has long been the ballet of choice for Christmas. Tchaikowsky’s world-famous masterpiece is an enchanting tale set in a winter wonderland of twinkly lights, snowy peaks and includes a trip to a magical Kingdom of sweets.  What’s not to like, for all the family?!

The highly popular Vienna Festival Ballet begins its touring production of the classic this week in Windsor, where we join a Christmas Eve party for Clara and her brother, Fritz. Their mysterious uncle – a bit of a magician -  brings a special toy soldier doll (Nutcracker) for Clara, which at midnight, he transforms into a handsome Prince.  Clara finds herself amidst a nightmarish war between giant mice and the toy soldiers. She saves the Prince from the Mouse King and they journey onward to the Kingdom of Snow as we head into the interval.

Founded in 1980 by world-renowned Austrian dancer, Peter Mallek, Vienna Festival Ballet devise a beautifully classical show. The scenic backdrops are simple, yet effective. The costumes capture imagination through dream-like softly coloured hues and the choreography is traditionally styled.

I'm a great fan of the tableaux and realistic life-scenes that the company creates. This is well displayed during the Act 1 party setting where the ensemble characters come to life, expose personality and draw us into the scene. Naomi Solomon’s slippered shape-throwing as Grandmother is a treat.  The individual dances are also delivered with passion, although there is missing chemistry between some dance pairings, with the exception of Jodie McKnight as Clara, and Ashley Selfe as The Nutcracker. They are well-matched and have evident mutual respect.

In Act II, The Nutcracker Prince escorts Clara to The Kingdom of Sweets where they dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Casey Pereira delivers the classic solo dance with sweet control, well supported by Dean Rushton as her Cavalier.

My favourite sequence is the celebration of sweets from around the world; chocolate from Spain, tea from China, coffee from Arabia etc, we have the Trepak dance from Russia and a Waltz of the Flowers. It provides the opportunity for classical ballet to be taken to different levels, and demonstrate the versatility of the dance form to ballet newcomers. Vienna Festival Ballet’s style might have been a notch more contemporary at this juncture, but it is the artistic director’s choice to present with tradition at the fore. The Arabian and Trepak dances were the delight for me, but each to their own colourfully-wrapped picking.

And this is what The Nutcracker allows; there is something for everyone, thanks, in some way, to the ‘Strictly’ factor. So if Widow Twanky’s become a bit Wishee Washee for your family, consider The Nutcracker for a highly touching festive experience.

The Nutcracker runs at Theatre Royal Windsor from 6th - 11th November 2017

For tickets call Box Office: 01753 853 888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

For details of tour, go to www.viennafestivalballet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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