New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Reviewed by Christine Charlesworth
On Friday 8 November I saw the ballet The Nutcracker, performed by Moscow City Ballet at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.
This month is the 25th anniversary of the company, formed in 1988 by the well-known Russian choreographer, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, who had been a highly acclaimed soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet and then Chief Ballet Master with the Odessa State Opera. Smirnov-Galovanov was committed to bringing his heritage of Moscow-style classical ballet to world audiences, combining artistry with original choreography to create a true ballet experience. Although, sadly, he died in April this year his distinctive style endures thanks to the dedication of his widow, Ludmila Nerubashenko, who has led the company for several years and is now the Artistic Director.
Nutcracker is an enchanting story. Set at Christmas time it tells the tale of Clara who is given two presents by her Godfather, Drosselmeyer, who is guest of honour at the Christmas party. The first is a book called ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ and the second is a wooden nutcracker. During the party Drosselmeyer appears as a magician, with three mechanical toys – a Nutcracker, a Doll and a Mouse King. These come alive at the wave of his magician’s wand. Clara’s brother Fritz has a fight with Clara over her wooden nutcracker, which is damaged. Clara is comforted by her Godfather, who tells her she will see magic that night. Clara sleeps, but when the clock strikes twelve the magic begins – or perhaps it is all a dream.
The dancing throughout was excellent but at times the stage seemed overcrowded with dancers which was very distracting. This was most noticeable in the Christmas party scene, with too many children, and also with far too many mice and snowflakes in the second act. A problem with having so many feet on the stage was that at times the audience heard the drumming of heels above the sound of the music.
Clara was danced by Anna Ivanova, who danced the role with grace, skill and obvious enjoyment. Sergei Saliev as Drosselmeier showed great talent. Talgat Kozhabayev was Nutcracker Prince but, although he danced his roll with great skill he did not seem relaxed and actually appeared to look worried in the the grande pas de deux. Marina Larina was a superb doll in Act One, Elena Kotelkina brought lightness and fun to the stage with her Eastern dance and the dancing of Ekaterina Odarenko was outstanding as the Flower Fairy.
Costumes, set design and lighting in the second half were beautiful. The magic of Tchaikovsky’s music was brought alive by the Moscow City Ballet orchestra, conducted by Igor Shavruk.
Moscow City Ballet is on tour in England and Wales until March 2014 where it will be performing Swan Lake and The Nutcracker by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Romeo & Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev and Don Quixote by Ludwig Minkus.
I recommend anyone interested in ballet to see this tour.
For tour dates visit www.moscowcityballet.com/en/events
To book tickets for shows at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-victoria-theatre