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I love the nutcracker, it is un abashed corny pastel pink fun. I’ve danced it plenty of times myself and I still think the grand pas de deux music is just sublime.
Having lived in crappy $ruralTown for the last few years with no semblance of theatre to see I gorged myself when recently in London and Italy
I saw 2 nutcrackers, one by the English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet and here follows my thoughts on these productions.
English National Ballet;s version is choreographed by  Wayne Eagling who has fiddled considerably with the story and the choreography. I’m not sure if its his choreography or the fact that the company was under-rehearsed but the group work was scrappy, particularly noticeable in the snow scene. For Principals we had Alina Cojucaru and Vadim who were both individually beautiful. Alina, as always, was stunning, all goodness and light as the sugar plum fairy, and Vadim’s solo showed off his lush technique. However it looked like they hadn’t rehearsed together enough as he dropped her twice, and he apparently forgot the finale.
The chinese dance had a welcome update – in contrast to the Royal Ballets which I will savage shortly, becoming a bit crouching tiger and hidden dragon but a welcome change from the bumbling chinamen of the Royal Ballet. There is a confusing bit pre-snow scene, danced by the lovely Alison McWhinney which was beautifully danced though i’m a little confused as to who the heck ‘Louise’ is and what she has to do with the story. I should have bought the program…. The Arabian dance though was very strange. A slave is introduced, with some terrible homo-erotic pseudo bondage choreography who is then freed by Clara. All in all bizzare and I feel completely out of place for a nutcracker.
The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker is by Peter Wright and on the whole I quite like how the did the story – Drosselmeyer’s Nephew is cursed into a Nutcracker doll by the Mouse King after Dross invents a mousetrap that decimates the mousey population.  This spell can only be broken by the love of a young girl. Dross is invited to a Christmas party and knowing Clara will be there, thinks this is the chance for his nephew. She loves the nutcracker , they beat the  mouse king and Dross is so happy he uses all his magic to reward Clara for his magic by conjuring up the land of sweets and all the various divertisments in Act II. Ballet isn’t narrative gold, but this seemed to be as good a story for nutcracker as I’ve seen.  It gives Clara and the nephew a chance to dance with the divertisments which is better than the usually passive role they have in Act II. The national dances were fine, except the Chinese dance which is unforgiveabluy racist. National Dances are, by and large, a caricature of folk dances – but all of them, other than the chinese is treated with respect, its over the top but they are taken seriously. The chinese dance has them in the long pony tails with their fingers extended with much head bobbing and buffoonery. WHen Clara joins in, it is in a gross parody of the gross parody and the whole effect is mean spirited. THe poor chinese aren’t even allowed dignity in the curtain call, with them playing the fool even then. It needs to be changed and frankly i’m surprised that is allowed to continue to exist in its current form.
The principals were Nunez and Soares. They partnered well together, and Nunez was a regal sugar plum fairy. Soares however was a disappointment, his solo was underpowered and flabby with floppy entrechat sixes and a completely puny mange of assemble tours in the middle. To finish an off balance pirouette. Terrible, I would, and have seem better from junior competitions.
He also had absolutely no idea of the finale and muffed it totally, going in the wrong direction at one point.
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