Do they have air-conditioning in the Queensland Ballet dance studios?
I certainly hoped so, as I contemplated in the midst of this summer's heat wave the amount of vigorous practice needed to recreate all these images of wintry snow scenes. But perhaps that is part of their charm for Queensland audiences. Thank-you dancers for perspiring your way through this very special, now annual, performance of The Nutcracker so that we can enter the enchanted cool world brilliantly created by set designer (Thomas Boyd) and lighting designer (David Walters). This is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving in what is the now the seventh annual Queensland Ballet performance of Ben Stevenson's choreographed rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet The Nutcracker.
At this time of year, the festive season can get frenetic, stressful and hot. You get the picture; the wrapping of gifts, hoping one doesn't max out the credit card when shopping, cooking a huge meal catering to everyone's food allergies and desires, dealing with family politics and missing absent loved ones.
So here is the perfect solution for you provided by your very own Queensland Ballet. Glam up (but not too much), head to the air-conditioning comfort of the Lyric Theatre, sit down, relax and immerse yourself in a magical winter wonderland which provides the perfect decompression for the challenges that await outside this place of enchantment.
The vision for this work is magical from start to finish, inexpressibly beautiful and dreamily romantic. Although the audience may have seen this production many times, the enchantment of The Nutcracker does not grow old and, if anything, this annual performance has created such a well-honed and sophisticated production, our childlike wonder and delight are reawakened every year.
In Act 1, there is a looser choreography which accentuates the mayhem of a family Christmas; the boys are shooting people with their toy pistols, grandpa is encouraging a young boy to drink and adults are getting just a little bit drunk. Lou Spichtic plays her childlike role as Clara with aplomb, skipping around the stage in her excitement at Christmas time and her enchantment with the gift of the Nutcracker who she recreates in her mind as a handsome prince. Humour and whimsy are created by life-sized rats and dolls but the mood changes from these more pantomime elements when the stage is transfigured into the Land of Snow. The lyrical dance of the Snow Queen (Lina Kim) and the Snow Prince (Liam Geck) is transformative and was one of my favourite parts of the ballet. Their sensitive rendition of this mood change was mesmerising in its beauty and grace.
Act 2 is a phantasmagoria of cultural dances and virtuosic displays. The solos and pas de deux of Lucy Green and Victor Estevez as Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince were sublime and warmly applauded by the audience. Arabian, Spanish, Chinese and Russian dancers graced the stage and Mother Ginger and her children as well as the dancing mirlitons provided comedic performances.
As always, sublime music was provided by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Nigel Gaynor with St Peters Lutheran College choir providing the background ethereal voices in the snow scene.
If you haven't yet been to one of the seven performances of The Nutcracker put it in your diary for 2020. There is always more room for magic, wonder and enchantment.
Choreographer Ben Stevenson OBE
Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor Nigel Gaynor
Music performed by Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Voices of St Peters Choir
Set Designer Thomas Boyd
Costume Designer Desmond Heeley
Associate Costume Designer Noelene Hill
Lighting Designer David Walters