The Nutcracker | WA BalletTraditionalists were warned – this would be a radical interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s dancing toys; a rite-of-passage story set in a contemporary high school and based around an internet romance.

The curtain dropped on the two central characters, Clara and Peter, instant messaging each other, with their words appearing magically on a huge mesh screen in front of them. The screen was a standout feature of the night and added an impressive dimension to the performance. The set design by renowned Italian theatre and opera designer Edoardo Sanchi was incredibly imaginative. It featured a giant washing machine, a huge snow dome and a rolling stage, which all the dancers managed to avoid tripping over.

The setting may have been in school much of the time but pimply, gawky students were nowhere to be seen - instead sexy Britney Spears-esque schoolgirls and athlete schoolboys pirouetted their way through maths exercises and their graduation.

A giant mouse, nut, falling snow and a Christmas tree referenced the original and of course, the original score ran throughout, played splendidly by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO). The familiar strains were matched perfectly by Cavallari’s exciting choreography.

Cavallari’s choreography was clever, modern and a pleasure to watch. A stern but sprightly schoolmistress and her male counterpart had two spectacular dances. Students danced their way into and out of clothes, to and from school, into bed, to their school dance and out of a washing machine. A stunning dream-like scene depicting a computer virus used repetitive movements and colour to affect maximum impact.

The costuming – particularly the final scene’s six colourful ball gowns – was stunning. The girls looked like a series of whirling meringues, each wearing a unique design. Their vibrantly-coloured dresses were lifted to reveal tulle in equally vibrant colours.

All the performances were fantastic with Clara and Peter clearly chosen for the role because of their experience and aptitude. They thrilled the audience with their impressive performances, delivering them with poise and panache.

In summary: the opening performance of The Nutcracker kept me spellbound from the moment the former Governor General Sir Michael Jeffries took his seat (he was fashionably late) until the curtain dropped with its fascinating choreography, breathtaking performances and impressive set design.

We were warned at the start that the show may contain traces of nuts... well, this reviewer was certainly nuts about the performance.

West Australian Ballet presents

Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre | 825 Hay Street, Perth
Dates: 12th - 27th September 2008
Tickets: $96 / $52
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing |

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