There is dark ambivalence to Ashley Page’s Nutcracker in its examination of taboo, bound up with the coming of age of Marie (Sophie Martin) and her relationship with arch-manipulator Drosselmyer (Tama Barry). His obvious feelings leading him to making his Nephew (Adam Blyde), his surrogate.
This darkness - of fairytale as metaphor for real life - runs through the whole ballet. It makes a fascinating opening party scene where the relationships and hints of affairs between the grown-ups add a level of complexity. The relationships are echoed in the casting and choreography of the Act II international dances.
The nub of the Drosselmyer-Marie relationship is examined most closely in the Little Play staged by the grown-ups. It is amplified in her waking dream which rounds off Act I, in which Diana Loosmore’s stern governess becomes the vicious Mouserink fighting with Drosselmyer - and Marie’s father (Owen Thorne) becomes Mouserink’s son, the Mouse King, who attacks and wounds Marie.
Emerging from such areas of darkness, the affirmation of love between Marie and the nephew, in the form of the Prince, in their Grand Pas de Deux just seems even more beautiful and sublime.
If this was magnificent under Page’s own direction, Scottish Ballet’s new artistic director Christopher Hampson has been utterly faithful to his predecessor. Indeed, as the company has gained confidence, so this achieves even greater heights.
All the levels of complexity in its underlying meaning are teased out. The precision of the corps-de-ballet in the snowflake sequence suggests a rigourously drilled company, while the joyous celebrations of the flower dances really let it fly.