I am not massively familiar with ballet having apparently last seen a ballet (also the Nutcracker at St David’s Hall in Cardiff) when I was just three years old so I didn’t really know what to expect and wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it. The idea of watching a show with no words to tell you what is happening seemed a little strange to me and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story.
It was definitely helpful to have a copy of the programme outlining what was happening in the different acts and this made it a lot easier to follow. In actual fact I enjoyed this much more than I was expecting and it definitely got me in a Christmassy mood!!
Most of the story took place in the first half and this was the part that my mum and I enjoyed the most. In this part Marie is given a nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve by the toymaker Drosselmeyer. Too excited to sleep, Marie sneaks downstairs to see the doll, when an army of mice attack – and the tin soldiers, dolls and, of course, the nutcracker, must fight to save her. The nutcracker is then turned into a handsome prince, who dances with Marie, and again battles the mice until the furry army is defeated.
It was very imaginative and they cleverly used a projected backdrop to represent different scenes. One of my favourite scenes was when the toys appeared to jump out from the backdrop and come to life on the stage and I thought that this was very cleverly done. Also very impressive were the stunning costumes – I especially liked those of the mouse army who really did look like giant mice!
The second half had less of a story to it and involved the different characters showing off their dancing skills until Marie wakes in the drawing room, to find the whole experience was nothing but a wonderful dream. I think that this probably appealed more to true ballet fans and certainly my Mamgu and my little sister Megan said that they preferred the second half.
The setting in St David’s Hall was ideal as the steeply tiered seats meant that we had a good view despite being quite high up. I particularly liked the fact that we could see the orchestra clearly and watching the percussionist play all of his different instruments was a real highlight for me! Many of the pieces were familiar to me and there is no doubt that the music but the composer Tchaikovsky is one of the best things about the ballet.
Nia Callaghan is a New Voices reviewer
The season includes Swan Lake which is on until December 31