Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 11 January 2020
Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth
St Petersburg Ballet Company are at the Sheffield Lyceum this week with the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. Be prepared to be whisked away straight into a world of wild imagination, childhood and magic.
We follow Clara as she is given an enchanted nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. The magician Drosselmeyer transforms the drawing room, ready for a Battle between mice and toy soldiers. During the battle, Clara saves the Nutcrackers life; breaking a magical spell that turns him from a boy to a toy – and the Mouse King is defeated. In celebration, Drosselmeyer sweeps Clara and the Nutcracker off to the Kingdom of Sweets, where they meet the Sugarplum Fairy and take part in a wonderful display of dances. The next morning, Clara‘s adventures seem to have been more than just a dream.
This Ballet keeps you on your toes as there is never really a dull moment, there are lots of different characters on stage, exciting costume and many sides to the story.
Many scenes are memorable but potentially the most notable is the snow scene. After the Mouse King falls, the Nutcracker lifts the crown from his head and places it on Clara. She magically transforms into a beautiful princess, and the Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince before her eyes. The Prince bows before Clara, taking her hand in his. He leads her to the Land of Snow. This is where the magic takes place, as they dance together surrounded by a flurry of snowflakes. The pa de deux is absolutely beautiful; the scenery is simple yet very effective with snowflakes on stage with a real theatrical treat being a snow machine producing snowflakes to land on to the auditorium.
Another real highlight is during act two with the long sequence of dances during the Land of Sweets scene. Clara and her Prince arrive in the Land of Sweets and are entertained by several different dance performances including a Spanish, Russian, Eastern and Chinese dance. All of which are light-hearted, fun and full of expert technique. The male dancer in the Spanish dance, Dmitrii Popov being a real draw here with his talent and superb charisma and stage presence.
Principal dancer Yulia Yashina is well deserving of her spot. She is everything a ballet dancer should be, delicate, strong, dedicated and professional. She has some beautiful costumes and some seriously difficult pieces to dance, which she executes outstandingly. All of the company are just brilliant at what they do but another one to mention would be the Doll Natalia Romanova. She is just marvellous. She portrays a number of different characters throughout, with a number of different dance genres, gaining enthusiastic applause for every single scene.
Saint Petersburg Ballet delivers exactly what you’re wanting from this production. A seasonal treat, a well formed and rehearsed ballet, and two hours of pure entertainment.