Review – Qld Ballet’s The Nutcracker 2016: a visual feast of colour and dance
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Ben Stevenson
Queensland Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Nigel Gaynor
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season: December 9-23. Runnning time: two hours including interval. Bookings at www.qpac.com.au or 136246
Once again it is the Christmas season, which in Brisbane means the annual Queensland Ballet production of The Nutcracker. Once again this show proved to be a visual feast of colour and magical dance. It is a production that has retained its charm and vibrancy.
And the joy of having such a strong company is that the principal and specialist roles take on a new personality with each dancer, which keeps the ballet sharp and fresh. Last year I raved about Lisa Edwards as the Sugar Plum Fairy. This year Lisa is back on stage after a bad injury and danced the role of Mrs Stahlbaum admirably. See is a very good actor as well as dancer.
On the night I attended the Sugar Plum Fairy was danced with amazing precision, perfect line and unbelievable pointe work by Laura Hidalgo partnered by Camilo Ramos as The Prince. It was a staggeringly beautiful finale with the Grand pas de deux,
The ballet is filled with many other magical moments, comedy and an element of simple fear for the children. The set is bright and stunning, it is fabulously costumed and lit (by David Walters); the choreography is brilliant and in the highly festive opening dancers young and old mill around in thoroughly organised chaos at the Stahlbaum Christmas party.
The Stahlbaum children Clara and Fritz welcome the guests while some mischievous boys cause trouble. Neneka Yoshida was Clara and once again we saw an accomplished young dancer with a very bright future.
Her brother was danced by Ze Wu whose naughty boy was a lot more mischievous and fun than last year’s obnoxious lout and so added to the fun.
The dark magician Dr Drossellmeyer as also played in a lighter mood by Victor Estevez. He was more a tricky conjuror than an evil magician with his magic tricks, and delightful mechanical dolls, Harlequin and Columbine. They were very realistically danced by David Power and Tara Schaufuss, who repeated her role from last year.. The Nurse Doll was danced particularly well by Vanessa Morelli and her partner the Soldier Doll was danced by Jack Lister.
After the children had unwrapped their gifts, Dr Drossellmeyer gave Clara her special present, the wooden nutcracker. Bad boy Fritz broke the figure but it was soon repaired. Fritz really landed in hot water when he gave Clara a box that contained a dead rat.
The party ends and Clara goes to sleep and dreams.
The Nutcracker then comes to life danced by Joel Woellner, the rats creep in and the slapstick battle commences in as the rodents battle the toy soldiers who with the aid of Clara win the hilarious battle.
After the fight the Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and he takes Clara off to the Land of the Snowflakes. This is an eerily beautiful setting where he dances with Lina Kim as the Snow Queen and the enchanting Snowflakes.
This is a particularly beautiful scene to see with precision dancing from an amazingly in-time corps de ballet and exquisite dancing from Kim and Ramos.
Clara then flew to the Kingdom of Sweets in an enchanted sledge where she was greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, who then brought on the entertainment, which was familiar and yet again so different in concept.
There were the Spanish Dancers and the gorgeous flowers, and the Arabian and Chinese dances and Zhi Fang’s acrobatic Russian dance.
Finally, after the proliferation of tutus and chiffon with the always gorgeous Waltz of the Flowers, which again showed some great precision dancing ferom the company, it was the turn of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince to dance Grand Pas de Deux Adagio.
At curtain came a great ovation for a truly happy and entertaining production.