I’ve seen The Nutcracker a couple of times with my mother, whether performed on stage or on TV (it’s a mother-daughter Christmas tradition) and we both agree that the rendition by Alberta Ballet, now playing at the Queen Elizabeth theatre, choreographed by Edward Stripe with live music by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, is by far the most awe-inspiring and magical out of any of the productions we’ve ever seen.
The ballet is based on an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It’s about a young girl, who is given a nutcracker doll that comes alive and after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical Kingdom populated by dolls.
Stripe, with his artistic collaborator and award-winning designer Zack Brown, roots the production in 19th century Imperial St. Petersburg with the russian-style tutus with soft capped sleeves, white wolves, and the long lines and broad style of Russian dance.
Yukichi Hattori really bursts with magic and mystery as the Nutcracker. The Sugar Plum Fairy (Mariko Kondo) and her Cavalier (Jaciel Gomez) elevate the spectacle to a dream-like level, capturing the imagination of the inner-child in every audience member with their solo performances in Act II. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra does a beautiful job in layering Tchaikovsky’s score with the every step and every move of every dancer–what a treat it was to have live music at the ballet.
But what really made the ballet were the more than 100 local dance students who danced alongside the 30 dancers of the Alberta Ballet. Whether crawling around stage as mice, or running around, teasing each other as children at the party–they were an absolute delight to watch. I was particularly happy at the culturally diverse casting of the children and parents (there were so many adorable hapa kids!) which I thought was suiting because The Nutcracker is ballet that celebrates the many diverse cultures we have–Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and even Sugar Plum Fairy. It is this combination of diversity and carefully-crafted elements that capture the imagination that make this production of the Christmas classic a complete success.
You still have time to catch The Nutcracker in Vancouver. December 29th and December 30th at 7:30pm and December 31st at 2:00pm. Follow Ballet BC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information about their performances this season.