The Nutcracker is a beautiful classic Christmas tale performed by the Moscow City Ballet, the show opens during a Christmas Eve party. Young Clara is delighted to receive a Nutcracker doll for Christmas from her godfather Drosselmeyer and whilst she is asleep the Nutcracker magically transforms into a handsome prince and transports her to a far away land.
The set is intricately painted but lacked the extravagance I feel required in a classical ballet although that’s understandable for a touring production. However the stage is lit sublimely causing light and shade in the production particularly in the contrasting scenes such as the sinister battle with the Rat King and the delicate dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Yuliya Zhuravleva dances gracefully and elegantly as Clara, each plié is meticulously crafted and her body sculpts effortlessly into the iconic Tchaikovsky score. Her duet with the Nutcracker Prince Andrei Zhuravlev is entrancing as they mirror one another leaping across the stage, their connection is evident through each slight movement creating a moving performance exuding emotion.
The costumes are sensational, especially the corps de ballet during the waltz of the snowflakes and the waltz of the flowers. After a slightly lacklustre first act, I found the second act bursting with energy and charisma. The national divertissement section is done exceptionally, the Russian dance being distinctly precise. However during each divertissement I found that the two parallel lines of dancers down each side of the stage occasionally doing movements quite distracting, their movements are too weak and untidy so therefore don’t add anything to the scene.
The principle dancers are astounding, Talgat Kozhabaev provides a stunning performance as Clara’s godfather Drosselmeier, each movement is strong and every turn is slick. His stage presence is emphatic and he moves with purpose.
The remarkable Tchaikovsky score is truly done justice by Igor Shavruk who conducts the piece magnificently, he really captures the subtlety and finesse of the music which reflects the dancer’s characterisation. From the second the curtain opens, the music creates a spectacular atmosphere lifting the performance, giving it a sense of rapture.
Whilst the dancing could be more precise, it’s impossible to expect something of an impeccable standard from a touring production. The larger corps de ballet sections of the show are sublime with simple yet impressive choreography by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and Marius Petipa.
It’s a captivating ballet bound to warm your heart, a sparkling production exhibiting some ravishing dancers as they bring the iconic story to life.
The Nutcracker is on at The Palace Theatre until the 16th of January and tickets are available here.