As family-friendly ballets go, they don’t come much better than Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
It’s Christmas eve and Maria receives a soldier-shaped nutcracker doll from her mysterious uncle, a toymaker, at a family party.
She’s transported into a magical world where the doll comes to life as a brave prince, doing battle with a with a wicked Mouse King, who follows them to Fairyland.
It’s a ballet of two halves; act one flows much better as a story, but it’s act two where the most recognisable music and dances take place, although they did feel a bit stop-start.
In Saturday night’s performance, Yury Kudryavtsev CRCT as the prince seemed a weak partner to Marina Volkova’s Marie, not making the effortlessly light work one desires of a pas de deux, although his solo work was more impressive.
Volkova became the princess that ballerina dreams are made of for the girls in the audience.
National dances in Fairyland really lifted the piece, each one capturing spirit and showcasing the dancers’ skills.
Without having read the programme, I might have been bemused at the lack of an actual Sugar Plum Fairy, as Marie performed her own solo to the popular music. Artistic director Sergei Bibrov had taken inspiration from a version of the story which omits this character in favour of “psychological realism”... Why, I really cannot understand.
Either way, this was a classic treat perfect for a wintry night after the festive season.