At Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Remaining performance: December 31 at 2PM.
Posted December 30, 2015
Imagine finding an old chest buried in the snow. Brush it off, open it slowly and discover it’s full of sparkling jewels. That’s what awaits you at Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Yards and yards of silvery tulle, sparkling tiaras, bright red sashes and red boots, daffodil-green leotards, filmy harem pants, peach-coloured tutus, Spanish ruffles and so much more. Imagine a turn-of-the-century Old Russia setting, an elegant ballroom and outside, snowy woods with snow gently falling from the night sky.
Alberta BC dancers at the height of their career share the QE stage with dozens of young dance students drawn from twenty Lower Mainland dance schools: the dearest little mice with perky ears and tails; boys and girls in their party-best dancing with excitement around a Christmas tree; scary rats and toy soldiers who vanquish them.
The Nutcracker, set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is the much-loved story of young Klara (danced by sprightly, smiling Luna Sasaki at the December 30 matinee) who is given a handsome Nutcracker for Christmas by her godfather, the mysterious, magical Drosselmeyer who explains that the Nutcracker is actually his nephew Karl (Yukichi Hattori), transformed by the angry Rat Tsar from a real live boy into a painted, wooden Nutcracker. To break the spell, someone must love the Nutcracker.
Miraculously, Klara, the Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer are suddenly much smaller; it’s a magical effect with the Christmas tree that stood in the corner of the room now just two sweeping branches filling stage right, the tree ornaments are vast and hanging, and the tiny town hall clock is now huge. The trio does, indeed, look tiny – a real Alice in Wonderland effect.
And from this point Drosselmeyer, Klara and the Nutcracker are entertained by various dancers: Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian, the Sugar Plum Fairy (prima ballerina Xiomara Reyes), her Cavalier and a host of Flowers (for Waltz of the Flowers against a beautiful backdrop of columbine, pansies, rosebuds and Lily-of-the-Valley).
Reyes and her partner Kelley McKinlay are at the top of their form. She is elegant, assured and some of the lifts are breathtakingly beautiful.
But it is just as exciting watching the younger pair, Sasaki and Hattori together. Their youthful energy and delight in performing adds light and airiness to the stage.
First performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, The Nutcracker is now performed worldwide especially around Christmas by companies professional and non-professional.
Presented by Ballet BC with Peter Dala conducting the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra this Nutcracker sparkles like fresh snow. Nowhere will you find more little girls in velvet, silk and satin – potential ballerinas all – in the audience, all wrapped up in the magic and beauty of it all. Sugarplum fairies will surely dance in their heads tonight.
Alberta Ballet’s Nutcracker is a jewel-box of delights that will leave you singing “Waltz of the Flowers” all the way home. Da da, da-da, da da. Listen: ah, here come the violins.