There’s something so incredibly magical about watching people do something that seems utterly impossible. As someone who spent about 12 months at the age of 7 attempting to distinguish 3rd position from 5th position, ballet certainly feels that way to me.
I was absolutely spellbound by the incredible talents of the Royal Ballet at the screening of this season’s The Nutcracker at Village Cinemas on 17 December 2017.
The storyline is a little creepy – a leering old toy maker weaves a spell over a beautiful young girl on Christmas night and takes her to a land of sweets to try to break the spell over his nephew which has caused him to become a nutcracker toy.
Everything else about The Nutcracker was enchanting.
Tchaikvosky’s wonderful music – everyone knows the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies – is always a delight. Paired with glittering staging and costumes, and dancers ranging from children to veterans who glided around the stage apparently effortlessly, it was truly a magical production.
The Nutcracker and The Royal Ballet – A Christmas Tradition
I was fascinated to hear the number of comments linking The Nutcracker with Christmas. In the London audience there were fans who had seen it as a child and were returning as an adult. It is performed every Christmas. This tweeter echoed a common sentiment:
It isn’t Christmas till you’ve seen the #rohnutcracker
— Vanessa (@petalandmortar) 10 December 2017
It felt mildly surreal, but quite wonderful, to become a part of this tradition while sitting in a cinema in outer Melbourne during a hot summer’s day. It really is the only way I’m likely to ever see the Royal Ballet!
The Nutcracker is screening at Village and Event cinemas around Australia. You can still grab tickets for Wed 20 December for just $20 ($18 conc) here:
Missed out? Don’t despair. Check the links above for more Royal Opera House performances coming to Australian theatres in the coming months, including Tosca, Carmen and Swan Lake.
… though be aware – it’s not quite the same as the real thing
While the ballet itself was flawless, I did have a few reservations about the screening. I felt the way it was filmed and produced really took away from the magic of the experience.
At the beginning and between acts the film included documentary-style segments, including how pointe shoes are prepared (with a ‘text this number now!’ request for donations to the pointe shoe fund), live backstage interviews with cast members before the show and a number of still shots advertising future ballets, which seemed rather out of place in a film setting.
While the interviews and documentary segments were very interesting, I would have preferred for them to be an optional extra at the end of the screening to avoid pulling me out of my wonderful ballet-induced trance.
The filming itself was frustrating. The camera often zoomed in on the dancers so that we would miss seeing the entrance of the sugar plum fairies into the shot, or were forced to watch the arm sequences only, with the legs of the dancers cut out.
I could also have done without close-ups of the sweat beads on Clara’s forehead, or the bulging muscles on the dancers’ legs. Ballet doesn’t seem so effortless when you’re forced to watch the effort in close proximity, magnified on a the big screen.
Disclosure: I was gifted two tickets to The Nutcracker for the purpose of writing this review.