Birmingham Royal Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker @ Birmingham Hippodrome

Nutcracker

When this event became available, I could not help but grab it at the first opportunity, and had waited avidly for it ever since. Having been familiar with the astounding music composed by Tchaikovsky, I expected nothing less from the production itself.

I had not seen a ballet before, and it is not something I had ever really considered; my main interest being big shows and musicals. However, from my experience of the ballet, I could not recommend it more highly. First of all, the venue was out of this world. The Hippodrome has definitely gone all out to decorate with the most beautiful, homely and welcoming Christmas decorations I have seen so far this year – not to mention the grand ornate interior of the theatre itself.

Flicking through the programme waiting for the show to start, the orchestra began to warm up and instantly a warm Christmassy feel took over me. There is no better sound than a live orchestra, with each instrument adding its own individual timbre. The curtain rose and on stage laid a huge pile of presents, shadowed by the most humungous Christmas tree I had ever seen – and it got bigger! It definitely brought out the big kid in me; the set being composed of a grand log burning fire, accompanied by warm crimson lighting. I wanted to jump up on stage and ransack all of the presents myself … that was until the dancers came prancing gracefully onto the stage – I somehow don’t think I would have fitted in!

Tracing back 127 years, the story of The Nutcracker is constantly evolving to this day; each producer adding their own touch to the festive ballet. The performance is built upon the musical foundations of the breathtakingly enchanting musical suite composed by Tchaikovsky. The music and choreography work interdependently to portray the narrative of Clara’s magical journey.

The story tells of a family holding a Christmas party for all their family and friends. The jolly atmosphere takes a mysterious turn when the magician, Drosselmeyer, enters the stage, bringing gifts for all of the children and performing tricks which leave the children dazzled. The whole play then turns into a magical fantasy performance when all the toys come to life at the stroke of midnight. The Second Act commences with Clara flying across the stage on a beautiful white Swan where she enters an enchanted land inhabited by a number of magical characters, including the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Fairy. This section included much of the well known and well loved music by Tchaikovsky such as the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ and the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’.

The performance was astounding to say the least. As I mentioned earlier, as a typical fan of musicals boasting big performances shaped by bold beaming voices, the ballet dissimilarly entranced me in its absolute silence. The story was told completely through the music and dance; ranging from the jubilant opening ‘Christmas Scene’, to the sudden change of a mysterious minor key upon the magician’s arrival.

It was a real traditional family production, putting emphasis on all generations: the excitable children eagerly waiting to open their presents, the graceful adolescents, the proud parents, and topping it all off with the comedic duo of the grandfather and grandmother. It was so nice to see young girls in the audience leaping and dancing around after the performance, and it really hit home for me how inspiring the performance must be for young children, particularly those aspiring dancers.

If you have not had the pleasure of attending a performance by the Birmingham Royal Ballet as of yet – it is an absolute must! The next show being performed by the spell-binding dancers will be Swan Lake (running from Wednesday 5th – Saturday 15th February.)

by Victoria Williams

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