The Nutcracker

Russian State Ballet
Point, Dublin

19th December 2005





Productions of The Nutcracker in America have become so synonymous with Christmas that not seeing it during the holidays would be like December 25th without any trees. The Russian State Ballet's visit to Dublin for only two days therefore felt bittersweet.

It offered what Nutcracker audiences have grown to love - a giant tree, fighting mice, dancing toys and fairies - made even more captivating because in this version Maria wakes up from her dream rather than staying in the land of sweets. This rendition closely follows the original that premiered in St Petersburg in 1893 to music by Tchaikovsky, starting a worldwide holiday tradition with its belief in family, parties and magic come to life.

The Russian State Ballet offered its talents graciously, with Elena Osokina as Maria and Alexandre Smolianinov as her Nutcracker prince weaving the story together as if helping us turn the page from one scene to the next.

The narrative maintained continuity as dolls from the first act followed Maria and her prince into the land of snow, and because Osokina performed the roles of Maria and the Sugar Plum Fairy - normally done by two different dancers. The second act opened on the Kingdom of Sweets, where the waltzing flowers in their lavender coloured costumes were especially enticing, swirling around in patterns as if creating candyfloss on stage. Each divertissement - from Spanish chocolate, Oriental coffee, Chinese tea and especially the comic Mother Ginger and her boys - offered a reminder that this time of year is not only magical, but fun. When The Nutcracker was first performed in Russia, audiences had the chance to see their favourite divertissements repeated, causing the Oriental coffee dancers to return most often to stage. Were that tradition to start here, quite possibly the entire production, accompanied by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, would be warmly welcomed back.

© The Irish Times