I recently had the opportunity to see The Nutcracker performed by the English National Ballet (ENB) at the London Coliseum. What a completely magical evening that put me in the festive spirit right from the moment you walk into the main lobby. There to greet you is a beautifully creative Christmas Tree made from 588 pointe shoes donated by ballet dancers in the company. Taking over 40 hours to create, the tree stands at 2.8 metres high, has 33 metres of fairy lights, and 700 metres of ribbon!
There are so many things in this performance that took my breath away, from the incredibly detailed costumes (especially the frightening costumes of the Mouse King and his army), to the sets and special effects (such as falling snow and the hot air balloon) to the magnificent orchestra. Combined, it transports you away to another world. But what was truly breathtaking was the incredible skill of the ENB dancers. Over 100 dancers and musicians are involved in bringing this story to life on stage. The choreography has been masterfully created by Wayne Eagling and I greatly enjoyed the way he has combined both modern and traditional elements in interpreting the story.
For the performance I attended, the role of the adult Clara was stunningly performed by Lead Principal, Alina Cojocaru. Her pas de deux performances in both Acts I and II were simply mesmerizing. She seemingly floats on air across the stage. Her incredible skill and control during each pas de deux was apparent during the daring lifts and throws choreographed in. Other key leads during this performance that were highly notable included the Nephew played by First Soloist, the young Cesar Corrales, and the Nutcracker performed by First Soloist, James Forbat. Both dancers exhibited their incredible power in the pas de deux performances and solos.
The one disappointment I had was that there was no Sugarplum Fairy, a much loved staple for Nutcracker performances. However, there is a gorgeous Waltz of the Flowers interspersed with adult Clara's solo and grand pas de deux performance that is nothing short of spellbinding.
I greatly enjoyed the ENB's interpretation of The Nutcracker, and has become one of my favourites of the show. it was my first time seeing the skilled dancers of the ENB and I can't wait to see future performances, such as Giselle coming up soon in January 2017.
The ENB's Nutcracker runs until January 7, 2017, so go get your tickets while you still can and enjoy a wonderful afternoon or evening watching this gorgeous performance! It is a perfect new tradition to start, or continue, and enjoyable whether you go by yourself, with friends, or family.