Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
English National Ballet
Wednesday 12th December 2012
Party guests and puppets, magic, snow and glitter. All the elements are there for the taking in The Nutcracker. Wayne Eagling’s production for English National Ballet brings a nephew from Military school (Vadim Muntagirov), a lone Mirliton, a victorious Mouse King, ice-skaters and Clara’s best friend Charlotte. This is all good.
Young Clara is danced by Annabella Sanders, from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, and she danced it beautifully. By the time she has morphed into Daria Klimentova, as adult Clara, we have been introduced to the Nutcracker doll that is the centre of the story. Clara’s nightmares centre around the Nutcracker being attacked by the Mouse King, and the ensuing battle brings soldiers on horseback and a mis-firing cannon ball. As The Nutcracker is injured, the snow beings to fall as Clara wonders what to do next. Drosselmeyer, danced expertly by Fabian Reimair, is on hand as always to mend things.
The Land of Snow awaits, but my goodness the snowflakes sounded liked elephants tonight. Those pointe shoes really need some work. Shiori Kase and Laurretta Summerscales made light work of the choreography as Lead Snowflakes. Muddling the Nutcracker with Clara’s nephew as she dances with them, Clara and Drosselmeyer vacate the stage in a hot air balloon with the Mouse King hanging on. The mice do tend to hang around in this production.
Act 11 brings the puppet theatre and the balloon descends into a world where dancers from all around the world come to life. Ksenia Ovsyanick was superb as the Mirlition, and the Spanish dance was a lively party from Nancy Osbaldeston, Adela Ramirez and Daniel Kraus. The Arabian dance I could live without; the slaves and hand cuffs have no place here.
The Waltz of the Flowers is beautiful and the dancers are in sync most of the time. Esteban Berlanga, as one of the Lead Flowers, has neat, airy footwork and Alison McWhinney was right on the beat. It’s a shame that Clara and her Prince don’t get to dance in the divertissements themselves, and they aren’t even on stage for them, but their pas de deux is an absolute killer and was danced almost to perfection. Dressed in their golden, glittering finery, Klimentova and Muntagirov are a pair to be reckoned with. Muntagirov was promoted to lead Principal dancer at the end of the performance, which is a new star rank for the company. How he has grown with the company. From slightly gawky and hesitant newcomer with extreme promise into a refined, naturally elegant dancer with a technical capacity that is the envy of many.
Once the waltzing is over it’s back to Clara’s bedroom where she wakes with a start, and her brother Freddie, who had been the cause of much trouble during the party when he broke the Nutcracker doll, talk about her nightmare before rushing off to wave goodbye to Drosselmeyer and his nephew as they leave through the snow.
This is a different take on The Nutcracker and one worth seeing. The dancers of the company are responding to Tamara Rojo’s leadership and English National Ballet is a company to keep your eye on.
The Nutcracker is in rep at the London Coliseum until 5th January 2013.
All photographs © Martin Bell Photography. No unauthorised reproduction.