The Nutcracker is the perfect Christmas performance, and it managed to continue that festive spirit through to early January – a much needed pick me up for anyone returning to work with the Christmas blues.
I have always gone to the theatre with my mum to see shows but it wasn’t until last Summer that I saw my first ballet performance, which is strange considering that I loved ballet as a child and attended ballet classes from the age of 2 until I was 15. I saw Cinderella in the Summer and couldn’t wait to see my next production, so when my friends at work suggested seeing the Nutcracker, I jumped at the chance.
It was performed by the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum, a beautiful building with a rich history dating back to 1904. The very first performance at the London Coliseum was a variety performance on Christmas Eve – I can only begin to imagine how exciting that must have been, walking into such an opulent and impressive building in London’s largest theatre, ready to watch its opening show just before Christmas.
As part of the photographic project ‘A year of the pointe shoe‘ by ‘Photography by ASH‘ and to visualise the shoes that would be used by the snowflakes (a group of ballerinas in the show), a 2.8m Christmas tree was constructed in the foyer of the London Coliseum. The tree is made up of 588 pointe shoes donated by the ballerinas and took 40 hours to build. A lot of work clearly went into putting the tree together but the result is an elegant and beautiful decoration that is perfect for the setting.
We arrived a little early for the performance and so went to the bar area and had a glass of Prosecco while we excitedly talked about what the show would be like.
It was soon time to take our seats though.
I could have quite easily sat in my seat just looking at the amazing interior and imagining the number of people that have sat in these seats. Sir Winston Churchill even gave a speech on that very stage during the Second World War. The theatre later became a cinema from 1961 and was re-opened in 2004 following an extensive restoration, returning to its original Edwardian decoration. If you are interested in finding out more information about the magnificent building and its history, you can book on to a guided tour using the following link.
The Nutcracker has an equally fascinating history and was first performed the week before Christmas in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Despite it being such a magical dance, the Nutcracker did not receive positive reviews and it was not until 100 years later, that it became popular.
The Nutcracker did not disappoint. The performance portrays the child-like excitement of Christmas combined with a beautiful love story. It focuses on a little girl named Clara, who is given a toy soldier as a present from her Uncle on Christmas Eve, but the majority of the performance is around Clara’s dream. Given that it is a dream, there are no rules and so expect to see giant mice sword-fighting with a toy soldier that has come to life…
The dancers are so so talented and made it look all so easy and the orchestra deliver Tchaikovsky’s music so beautifully – you will find yourself humming the music and twirling around your house pretending that you are a ballerina for days after (if only I could do so with the same elegance as the dancers).
Having entered a new year, I would love to make more of an effort to see more shows this year.