Irish National Youth Ballet
12th December 2005
While Nutcracker productions around the world charm audiences by constantly updating costumes and scenery, the Irish National Youth Ballet's version entertains because of the young dancers' earnest performances. The best bits here are the characters you don't see in New York or London, and the sense that other aspiring young dancers might someday be able to do this, too.
The curtain opens on Clara who receives a present from her uncle Drosselmyer - a Nutcracker doll that can dance. Through a series of usual twists and turns, the Nutcracker saves Clara from the cute but mischievous mice, then whisks her away to the dreamy Kingdom of Sweets.
The action accelerates when Clara starts throwing presents at the mouse king, and a golden angel enters, obedient followers in tow. The dancers do a fine job with basic ballet steps, but when the snowflakes enter the technical ability speeds up.
By presenting a range of dancing ability in act two, this Nutcracker reveals what it is like to work in a professional company. A group of likeable characters take their turn - including the enchanting Chinese dancers and the very welcome Irish dance group - but not until the flower fairy (Zoe Ashe-Browne), sugar plum fairy (Chika Temma) and her prince (Denis Muruev) enter the scene does the performance reach its crescendo.
If the young dancers keep practising, they might also appear in a glittering tutu one day. And, as if sparked by this Nutcracker's magic, some fledgling ballerinas afterwards went dancing down the street.
© The Irish Times