“What’s this ballet about then,” asked my friend, as we took our seats in the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, ahead of a matinée performance of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!
“Dunno,” I replied. “Sweets, maybe? Dancing sweets.”
Perhaps we should have invested in a programme. Still, it transpires that you don’t need to know exactly what a ballet is about to enjoy the spectacle.
Originally created in 1992, Bourne’s contemporary version of classic ballet The Nutcracker is now 20 years old. After a Christmas season at Sadler’s Wells in London, Nutcracker! is currently touring nationwide with Bourne’s dance company, New Adventures.
Accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s original score, Nutcracker! takes the audience on a magical journey from bleak orphanage to winter wonderland and then onwards to a colourful kingdom of (dancing) sweets. The sumptuous look of Nutcracker! is all thanks to designer Antony Ward, whose costumes are amazing. I defy anyone not to want to dress like a marshmallow or liquorice allsort after seeing this ballet. The white outfits for the ice-skating scenes were also gorgeous, as were those worn by the Princess Sugar (AKA The Sugar Plum Fairy). And who knew that cupid wanders around in blue and white striped PJs?
The choreography and the dancers were pretty special too. Bourne states that his aim was to create a show with something for everyone:
“The classical Nutcracker has also become a Christmas tradition; it’s often the first ballet that many people see. It can though, be a difficult story to follow and be a bore for the men of the family. I’ve tried to tell a story for all the family. Adults, kids, girls and boys should all find something to thrill them and touch them in Clara’s adventure.”
The Nutcracker was indeed the first ballet that I ever saw. I suspect that Nutcracker! will not be the last.
The 20th anniversary tour of Nutcracker! continues until Saturday 19th May. For more information about Matthew Bourne and New Adventures: