Choreographed by Val Caniparoli
Presented by: Royal New Zealand Ballet
Opera House, 2nd Nov 2018
Reviewed by: Leah Maclean
The Nutcracker is a classic Christmas tale and, alongside the likes of Giselle and Swan Lake, a ballet company staple. With choreography by Val Caniparoli (USA) and Tchaikovsky's illustrious score delightfully performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO), the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) brings the magical Christmas story to life.
The Nutcracker isn't necessarily a traditional Kiwi Christmas experience, so for those of you who are unfamiliar, the story goes; a young girl is gifted a Nutcracker doll by a brilliant toymaker, and on Christmas Eve she dreams the doll turns into a handsome prince who rescues her from the clutches of the evil Mouse King. The pair journey through a wintery wood and partake in a glorious celebration led by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her dapper Cavalier.
The world created on the stage at the Opera House drips with fairy-tale magic and a bit of sleight of hand magic too. From the impressive set designed by Michael Auer, the vibrantly coloured costumes, and the swirling snowfall cascading over the enchanting dancers to the selection of local child performers who almost steal the first act from the professional ballerinas beside them, RNZB’s The Nutcracker presents a whimsical and merry evening at the theatre.
The dancers perform with alacrity and endearing passion, leaping skyward with ease and trusting each other inherently. Live music from the NZSO and a (disappointingly) short appearance by the Orpheus Choir beautifully transports one into an epic experience. A pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier is exquisitely romantic, setting a highlight of the evening, alongside the cheeky trio of 'Russian Caviar', who squat dance across the stage in marvellous unison.
The Nutcracker manages to deliver something for everyone. Whether you are a dance connoisseur, an appreciator of music, or someone who just loves a good old Christmas classic, you will be swept into the charming storybook world crafted by the RNZB and their fine collaborators.