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English National Ballet: The Nutcracker, Winter 2013/14


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English National Ballet are at the Liverpool Empire this week with Wayne Eagling's production of the Nutcracker.  I saw the performance last night.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the performance very much.  I loved the beginning sequence with Clara in her bedroom and the skaters outside the house.  It immediately generated a lovely Christmassy feel.  I thought the whole company looked engaged on the stage and it made for a party I wanted to be at!  I liked the idea of the puppet theatre where the puppets come to life that carried the thread into act 2.

 

One thing I did not understand was why the Nutcracker Doll and the Nutcracker Prince seemed interchangeable in the battle with the rats and the snow scenes.  One minute it was the masked Nutcracker (a fabulous Junor Souza) and the next it was the Nutcracker Prince (the truly glorious Vadim Muntagirov).  I did find it a bit irritating.

 

I did like the way Clara transmogrified from the student dancer to Daria Klimentova - it was so seamless I bet people sat upstairs at the back didn't even notice!

 

I loved the snowflakes!

 

The act 2 divertisements were interesting and attractive but I'm not quite sure why there was a mini story in the Arabian.

 

All the dancing was splendid but I must say that Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov have a very special and spectacular on stage partnership that is a privilege to watch.

 

All in all, I enjoyed the production and the performance very much.

 

 

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Thanks, Janet.  You seem to be expressing most of the same likes and dislikes as everyone else about this production :)

 

I must admit, I hadn't realised that ENB were doing anything other than Corsaire before Christmas.  I suppose this will ring the changes for a bit.

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I had the pleasure of photographing the Nutcracker with Alina Cojocaru, Vadim Muntagirov and Junor Souza as the Nutcracker cast. Well worth the trip to Liverpool's Empire Theatre. Here are some pictures from the rehearsal.

 

ENB%2BNutcracker%2B13_jr_001_cojocaru_so
 
 Alina Cojocaru - Clara and Junor Souza - Nutcracker 

 

ENB+Nutcracker+13_jr_114_souza_cojocaru_

 

Nutcracker - Junor Souza, Clara - Alina Cojocaru and Drosselmeyer - Fabian Reimair 

 

ENB%2BNutcracker%2B13%2BAct%2B2_jr_213_c
 
Alina Cojocaru as Clara and Vadim Muntagirov as Prince 
 
More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk in two albums
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I've seen ENB's latest Nutcracker several times now and I still don't understand why the Nutcracker and the Nephew are two different dancers; it confuses the heck out of me.

 

Not a fan of the Arabian dance with Clara's brother - also confusing.

 

Is the strange, otherworldly purple/UV tinged lighting still featuring in Act 2?

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I quite like the swapping between the Nephew/Prince and the Nutcracker. I don't like the Arabian dance; I find it a bit tasteless and wish that it would be re-worked. Generally, I find that the 'national dances' in any production drag a bit and I'm waiting for the waltz of the flowers and the SPF pdd. I really like the tricky pdd for the Nephew/Nutcracker and Clara in this production, particularly when it's performed by Daria and Vadim.

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Thanks, Janet.  You seem to be expressing most of the same likes and dislikes as everyone else about this production :)

 

I must admit, I hadn't realised that ENB were doing anything other than Corsaire before Christmas.  I suppose this will ring the changes for a bit.

 

I expect the company thought that Corsaire wouldn't sell in a city full of ballet philistines!  At least it meant I had a chance to see this production as I probably wouldn't have travelled to London to see it (having 2 wonderful productions in NB's (sadly not this year) and BRBs to enjoy).

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The ENB website now shows Junor Souza as the Nephew/Prince dancing with Tamara Rojo on 13th and 17th December evenings at the Coliseum, Max Westwell is the Nutcracker.

Is that replacing Golding?

 

Lovely photos, John, thank you!

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I agree with Janet that Vadim and Daria were dazzlingly beautiful and that Junor Souza was an excellent Nutcracker. These stellar performances on Wednesday were followed by the sheer delight of Elena Glurdjidze on Thursday afternoon and the exquisite debut of Alina Cojocaru (in this production) on Thursday evening (again with Vadim and Junor). There cannot be many companies who can field dancers of this amazing quality in consecutive performances and this one is offering true world stars like these to the regions as well as to London.

 

 

P.S. The confusion which arises from the swapping of the Nephew/Prince and the Nutcracker is writ large in the audience's surprised  reaction at the end when, suddenly, there are two people before them at the same time and the Nutcracker takes off his mask.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday evening with Daria and Vadim followed by Thursday's with Alina and Vadim. Stellar casts all within 30 minutes drive of home - fantastic!!!!  The corps de ballet seemed to be on form and enjoying the performance.  Wayne Eagling said after that there were a few technical hitches but I only noticed one where the scenery came down and caught on the caged soldiers!  I have not really got a bad word to say about it I loved it all!  The music was lovely although I could have done without the supplementary sweet paper rustling throughout!  James Streeter was great as the King Mouse and Junor de Souza was a very good Nutcracker - such energy.  I have only previously seen Vadim in Suite en Blanc so I was delighted to finally see him in a full length production - he is indeed a lovely dancer so I am really looking forward to his Conrad in LE Corsaire!  I also enjoyed the all too brief Spanish dance with Yonah Acosta - he did some lovely jumps.  I agree with others the Arabian scene was a bit "meh" but I liked all the others.

I found this Nutcracker to be much more "friendly" than say the RB production where I have seen children really frightened by the mice/soldier battle scenes, this was much gentler and I think the mice were quite friendly really no need for King Mouse to be boo-ed as he was lastnight!!!  Lovely costumes, super dancing and super music all for £17.50/£28 (ATG card comes in handy) an absolute bargain!

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Dear wise balletomanes: I've now booked to see the ENB's Nutcracker at the Coli, largely thanks to Janet and Capybara's reviews here. But am now wondering if I should also book to see the RB's Nutcracker, or if I should see Jewels?. I'm leaning towards Jewels because I fear it would be boring to see two Nutcrackers in one month, but I don't know anything about Jewels. I can't manage all three ballets on my budget, so I really do have to choose b/w RB Nutcracker or RB Jewels. Any advice? 

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I don't like RB's Nutcracker so I would go for Jewels (well actually I am going for Jewels).  I should say that I saw it in 1986 and haven't bothered since.  My favourite production is BRB's with NB's running it a close second.

 

If BTUK are touring anywhere near you, you could see their Nutcracker (it's amazing what you can do with 12 dancers!) and Jewels

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Many thanks for the advice Janet.  I knew nothing about BTUK, but have just read your review about it; sounds fascinating. Will check it out. Meanwhile, could anyone tell me what they think of Jewels, I mean, what is it like to watch? Is it boring? I've generally always preferred "story" ballets....

PS Janet, you watched RB's Nutcracker almost a decade before I was born!! I don't mean that in any way other than, it's amazing for me to be able to hear, and learn, from someone like you who is so much more experienced than me!

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Jewels can be great with the right dancers, but can also flop with the wrong ones, in my opinion.  Also, it can take a while to get to grips with the styles, choreography, relationship to the music and so on.  I loved it the first time I saw it (with the Kirov), liked it less the second time, generally really appreciate it now, but I still find it can fluctuate.  "Boring"?  Well, I suppose it depends what you think of Balanchine and his type of choreography.  Do you like "Theme and Variations", for example?  That's the nearest thing of his I can think of to "Diamonds".

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It's not often that Janet and I disagree - this is a first, in fact - but I absolutely love Royal Ballet's Nutcracker; in fact I'd go and see it purely for the transformation scene alone. :-) I think everybody should see it at least once.

 

That said, I haven't yet seen BRB's version.

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It's not often that Janet and I disagree - this is a first, in fact - but I absolutely love Royal Ballet's Nutcracker; in fact I'd go and see it purely for the transformation scene alone. :-) I think everybody should see it at least once.

 

That said, I haven't yet seen BRB's version.

 

Hasn't it changed  considerably since Janet saw it in 1986?  I'd understood that Peter Wright had made major changes when the Opera House reopened in 1999.

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Dear wise balletomanes: I've now booked to see the ENB's Nutcracker at the Coli, largely thanks to Janet and Capybara's reviews here. But am now wondering if I should also book to see the RB's Nutcracker, or if I should see Jewels?. I'm leaning towards Jewels because I fear it would be boring to see two Nutcrackers in one month, but I don't know anything about Jewels. I can't manage all three ballets on my budget, so I really do have to choose b/w RB Nutcracker or RB Jewels. Any advice? 

 

I love the RB's Nutcracker (though I hear the Birmingham RB's version, also by Peter Wright, even better though I'm yet to see it). I love ENB as a company, but their current Nutcracker is just a mess in my opinion. Somewhat moot though - getting a ticket for RB Nutcracker would be tricky as almost all sold out. Jewels is just fantastic, 100% ballet all the way so I'd highly recommend that.

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Go for Jewels I say. I do not like the RB Nutcracker the first act has little actual dance in it so I avoid it. I loved ENB's Nutcracker and BRB's is a sparkling gem too that said I am trying SB Berlin's brand new Nutcracker next week!

Jewels has fab music andcostumes and with 3 styles of dance there is hopefully something for everyone. It is probably my most favourite non narrative ballet but it was not always that common to see..thankfully it is better now RB have it in the rep. Enjoy!

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Go for Jewels I say. I do not like the RB Nutcracker the first act has little actual dance in it so I avoid it.

 

 

I would disagree with that - Clara and her partner lead the children dancing (taught by the dance mistress), the adults dance at the party, Grandad leads another dance, the 'magic' dolls dance, the battle with the mice is danced, the exquisite Clara/Hans-Peter pdd, and the gorgeous Snowflakes, are all in the first act. Plus one of the great theatrical moments where the room transforms and the tree becomes gigantic, are all worth seeing.

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I very much agree with Dave on this.  ENB's Nutcracker is rather "hit and miss" for me.  It has some wonderful moments like the snowy skating scene at the beginning and the snowflakes' scene, as well as the final pdd for Clara and Prince, but I really don't like the swapping of Nephew and Nutcracker, which is totally confusing (and probably even more so for young children), and some of the other scenes are very un-Christmassy which results in it losing some of the magic.  Give me RB's version every time - certainly enough dancing for me in Act 1, and the transformation scene with the growing of the tree as the music swells is breathtaking.  IMO, the pdd between Clara and Nutcracker towards the end of the first Act  is one of the highlights and certainly on a par with that of the Sugar Plum and Prince (which I also love), so much so that it brings a lump to my throat every time! There's more wonderful dancing in Act 2, and the story holds together right the way through.  So, SMBallet, I don't think you would be at all bored by seeing both ENB's and RB's versions, as it would enable you to decide which you prefer!  However, for the record, I also love Jewels (particularly Diamonds!), so if you enjoy pure dance, I'm sure this wouldn't disappoint either.   

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Elle, I don't understand why you say that some of the scenes are un-Christmassy. The structure and dancing content of ENB's version very much follow that of most traditional versions of The Nutcracker. The Arabian Dance is a bit peculiar and is probably the only bit that you could say does not fit well with the Christmas theme.

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