This particular production of The Nutcracker was created by Queensland Ballet under the direction of Choreographer Francois Klaus. There has been much anticipation and quite a media frenzy surrounding this major production, not only is this the first time The Nutcracker will be seen by Queensland audiences, this ballet is poised to be one of Queensland Ballet’s biggest ever productions.
For those of you who don’t know, the original story of The Nutcracker is a tale whereby an angry king seeks to kill all the rats in his kingdom for having eaten his favourite cheese. One surviving rat, the King of Rats, furious with the king’s actions, reaps his revenge by turning the king into a Nutcracker doll. The interpretation given to this story by the Queensland Ballet is a Christmas fairytale of a young girl who dreams herself into a magical world of theatre and dance with the symbolic ‘Nutcracker Doll’ as the inspiration behind the dream.
What made this performance such a visual treat was the perfect combination of costume design (Noelene Hill) and set design (Graham Maclean). All the dancers wore garb of the most wonderful colours and fabrics, the richness of the costumes highlighted the class and period of the characters being personified in the tale. The layers of each set were cleverly designed, enabling each scene to be concealed from one Act to the next adding an element of surprise to the story. The transition into each Act created moments of magic onstage, as could be heard by the taking in of breath by hundreds of children in the audience.
The main character Clara – Ballerina Rachael Walsh - was the young girl whose dream world we entered for the duration of the performance. Her dancing was enigmatic and enchanting, and it was clear by her remarkable talent why she was chosen for the lead role. Matched in skill was fellow dancer and Clara’s dream prince, Nathan Scicluna.
As most of you would know the music for The Nutcracker was written by composer – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky’s score is one of the fundamental principles of this ballet creating the air of majesty that supports the dancers and the sets onstage. So I was disappointed the moment I heard the audio from the front of house speakers -for the matinee performance I attended- crackling in and out of function. My only other bone of contention with this Queensland Ballet performance was the lack of congruity in the dance. It could be noticed the lack of precision and synchronicity amongst the dancers, which spoiled the moment by drawing your attention to the poor timing of some of the movements and posturing. The hands of two of the female dancers bumping into each other while executing a particular movement, was an example of this.
Although I saw some moments of amateur ballet, overall The Nutcracker performed its function and that was to be a crowd pleaser. And judging by the sold out audiences for the duration of this wondrous traditional fairytale (in a very bourgeois fashion) I am sure that it will prove to be a huge success for Queensland Ballet.
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Dates/Times: Sat 15 and 22 Dec, 2.00pm and 7.30pm; Tue 18 Dec, 2.00pm; Fri 21 Dec, 6.30pm
Tickets: $27.75 to $67.75 (inc. fees)
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