The Nutcracker | Queensland BalletLeft – Lina Kim. Photo – Simon Lekias

Dashing and delightful is the experience at Queensland Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. The sparkle and polish are enchanting for all ages and attention spans.

Ballet is a bit like a circus: we want the dazzle and magic with feats of athleticism and dare. But how to keep audience attention when there is no script, and a soundtrack comes from speakers? Answer: imagination and originality. The Nutcracker achieves this through choreography, costumes and acting.

As far as plotline goes, The Nutcracker is light-on. This folk tale was developed into a ballet in the 1890s and features Tchaikovsky’s evocative score. Essentially, the two acts have a thread joining together vignettes of dance groups or duos flitting around to different music scores. It’s a winter Christmas complete with snow, hot ales, fireplaces and pine tree forests. The central character Clara (Mia Heathcote) is a young girl excited by family and community festivities. Given a magical Nutcracker doll by the mysterious and charismatic Herr Drosselmeyer (Shane Wuerthner), she later falls into a dream sequence of dancing mice, toy soldiers, snowflakes, and exotic characters.

The ensemble is varied and large: children provide gaiety, innocence and humour. The serious en pointe professional moves come from the company dancers and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional Program students. Performers play characters in the different scenes of the two acts keeping in time with the soundtrack recording.

Highlights include the dashing presence of Herr Drosselmeyer, striding about in cape and flourishes. This machismo appears again in the Russian Dance: a masculine ka-boom of jumps and leaps by Vito Bernasconi.

First-class ballet performer and this production’s artistic director Li Cunxin has applied his years of experience and lively imagination. This is evident in the attention to detail for performer personas in the first scene, where at least 20 dancers are on the stage at once. Every single dancer has a unique character and sub-story. This means every inch of the stage has something happening, and all through mime and movement. The effect is overwhelming at times, but in a cheerful manner.

Children attending in the audience stayed quiet and still; probably so mesmerised by the costumes and stage activity they forget about iPads and Peppa Pig. There is plenty for adults to like too: clever choreography by Ben Stevenson blends classic pirouettes and arabesques with contemporary steps to suit the mood of each scene. Audience indifference is impossible as the dancers pirouette and leap, lift and bend seemingly effortlessly. During the Arabian Dance, Lina Kim especially seems to float cloudlike with grace.

And the costumes... no wonder there is a team of professionals for this key element. Senior Costumier Isabelle Lacombe and the wardrobe team bring bling and class. There are delicate silks and sparkles on the classic characters of the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy and colourful creations for Mother Ginger and her children.

The Nutcracker has everything needed for a classic ballet: from the movement, to costumes and set – this production enlivens a charming traditional folk tale with a dash of humour.


Queensland Ballet presents
The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky

Choreography Ben Stevenson

Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
Dates: 23 – 27 Nov, 2016
Bookings: www.queenslandballet.com.au


Most read reviews

Because the Night | Malthouse Theatre

If you’re looking for a show that’s completely different and unlike anything you’ve seen in Australia, head to Because the Night.

Chess The Musical | StoreyBoard Entertainment

For fans of the musical, the problems and changes to the book and plot of Chess are as familiar to them as the score itself and arguably, all this messing about has resulted in an inability to now claim anything as a definitive version. 

Berlin | Melbourne Theatre Company

Through the eyes of her own children during a family holiday to the German capital in 2015, Murray-Smith pondered the feelings and implications for the young drawn to a city so rich in history and creativity but also one so profoundly soaked in shame.

The Removalists | New Theatre

The behaviour of the men is misogynous. The behaviour of men in authority menacing. The Removalists is as relevant today as it was then.

Most read news

MTC to premiere Digital Theatre

Audiences around Australia will have the opportunity to see Melbourne Theatre Company productions direct from stage to screen with the premiere of MTC Digital Theatre – Friday 16 April 2021.

Audience wanted!

Come Dance with Me is a brand new TV dance competition show filming at Docklands Studio Melbourne for American Television.