nutvracker doll

The Nutcracker

Malvern Theatres


While the Midlands is blessed with one of the most vibrant modern versions of The Nutcracker by Birmingham Royal Ballet, a visiting Russian ballet company offered an alternative traditional performance.

The Russian State Ballet and Opera House stopped off at Malvern Theatres for one day as it approached the end of its UK tour. With a live orchestra, the production is character-led and wraps the audience in a cocoon of enchantment for this festive ballet.

The musicians bring out the best of Tchaikovsky's sublime soundtrack that takes the audience on an imaginative child-friendly journey with teenager Marie Stahlbaum.

It moves from the Stahlbaum's family Christmas party to an enchanted world where snowflakes dance and there is a likeable yet naughty Mouse King, who battles with the Nutcracker hero.

The mice are used for comedic effect and especially appealing to children as a little mouse nibbles on a big lump of cheese while the King saunters around with a crown on his head. They aren't menacing or scary at all, but that's the intention.

There's a very simple stage setting with no dazzling special effects, but the dancing is left to be the showstopper instead.

There's glorious technique and exact pointe work by the dancers performing choreography by Konstantin Uralsky based on original moves by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. 

There's also an emphasis on romance and the pas de deux routines between Marie and The Nutcracker, as well as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Coqueluche, are dreamy with pinpoint accuracy.

When Marie meets various people from around the world in Act Two, it's fascinating to see a Russian ballet company's take on the Russian Dance. 

It has a feel of Russian folk dancing about it with a man and woman swirling around each other in traditional country outfits.

The trio of women performing the Arabian Dance are particularly lithe while the couple doing the acrobatic Chinese Dance raise a few laughs.

While this production doesn't have the glittering scenery or large scale dance sequences seen in big budget British productions, it does have a lot of charm and fine dancing technique.

It's a chance to see traditional ballet performed by a company from where The Nutcracker was created and it is a show that can't help but captivate.

Alison Brinkworth


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