To watch a beautiful fantasy come vibrantly to life, one need only attend a performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ by the English National Ballet company. Wayne Eagling’s production has gotten nothing but better since its debut in 2010, and some of its shining stars have just been moved to even higher levels of acclaim.
On its first night at the London Coliseum last month, the Prince and his partner, Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentova, were given the title of Lead Principal along with a few others in the corps de ballet for many indisputably good reasons. However it’s really a matter of degree, as every member of the company delivers a performance that is nothing short of outstanding.
Several reviewers noted that some scenes have improved quite a lot; the party, for instance, when Grandfather shows the younger generation a few moves from earlier times and they pick up on the (new) steps with cautious and then abandoned enthusiasm. Also the mouse battle is more fun and faster-moving than before, and the dance of the Snowflakes is enchantment with frosty edges.
For a dance troop that has been struggling for survival, the dancers exude confidence, clearly enjoying their own performance and sharing that joy with the audience. The ambiance of a gas-lit London from another time, a hot air balloon ride over its fog-shrouded skyline, the vanquishing of a cruel Mouse King and of course the central transformation of Nutcracker to Prince, all set to Tchaikovsky’s familiar and immortal score provide a magical experience for all ages.
The English National Ballet (ENB) is now in its 60th year, and still has the same objectives that it began with. Tremendously talented and dedicated dancers perform classics such as ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as well as more modern ballets from contemporary choreographers for the widest possible audience, keeping prices within an affordable range.