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Nutcracker review at London Coliseum

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English National Ballet’s annual Christmas Nutcracker is a popular seasonal tradition, with some 10 productions of the ballet since the company was formed in 1950. The current version, made in 2010, is by the company’s previous artistic director Wayne Eagling, and has both strengths and weaknesses.

The main problem is that some of the action is unclear – the switching of the Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer’s Nephew is confusing, while the puppet theatre and Clara’s dream sequence, which are intended to clarify the narrative, only muddy things. Admittedly, the Nutcracker story is slight at the best of times, but Eagling’s production hardly improves matters. It is also unclear why his Arabian dance is in the form of a prison break-out.

However, the dancing on the opening night made you forget these shortcomings. Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov were second to none in the lead roles of Clara and Drosselmeyer’s Nephew. Klimentova may be a senior dancer, but her detailed footwork and lovely lines show she is a match for ENB’s younger dancers.

Muntagirov, meanwhile, is a top-quality dancer, with precise placement and superb leaps. Indeed, he is in his element – not only does the young Russian have Klimentova to dance with, but he also has Royal Ballet defector Alina Cojocaru to partner when she guests with ENB. The rest of the cast is also strong, with special mention to Yonah Acosta in the Spanish dance and Fabian Reimair as Drosselmeyer – although he needs better conjuring ‘tricks’.

The opening night performance also benefits from Peter Farmer’s fresh designs, and Gavin Sutherland conducts the orchestra with flair.

Production Information

London Coliseum, December 11-January 5, 2014

Composer
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreographer
Wayne Eagling
Designer
Peter Farmer
Producer
English National Ballet
Cast includes
Daria Klimentova, Vadim Muntagirov, Fabian Reimair, James Streeter, Jane Haworth, Yonah Acosta
Running time
2hrs

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