The Russian State Ballet of Siberia and The Orchestra of the Russian State Ballet have made Cardiff their festive home with those three much-loved ballets, Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
This year we were promised that this the most traditional of Christmas ballets, The Nutcracker, that has kept families entertained at this time of year down the decades, would combine the best of classical ballet dance with a merging of traditional and digital stagecraft.
The former was evident in this production of Nutcracker as soon as these skilled and committed dancers appeared on the Cardiff stage and while the special effects were fun and delighted the enthusiastic, large audience, the use of digital video to create the settings didn’t quite bring the magic I was expecting. There was some jollity but the scenery was basic and added little to our pleasure in the story.
But is particularly the dance and music that matters and the work of artistic director Sergei Bobrov and music director and chief conductor Anatoloy Tchepurnoi in bringing Cardiff high quality ballet and musicianship that is exemplary. This is a flowing, well-paced reading of Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous and scrumptious score.
My young companion and I preferred the second half when the music and performance really came to life. The different dances from around the world were exquisitely performed and provided the perfect opportunity for the company members to excel in cameo performances. It was slightly simplistic having a building from each country projected to the backcloth for this scene.
But back to the dance.
In all of the set pieces that we have grown up loving the dancers brought audible delight to the youngsters in the audience; Clara and her prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the fighting mice and toy soldiers, the Waltz of the Snowflakes. All a total delight.
Our eyes were, of course, always drawn to the starring roles and such dedication to the craft of dance shone through, taking what can be a standard piece of festive season fare to a celebration of physicality, artistry and elegance in movement.
From December 27 to 31 the company performs Swan Lake. Watch out for our review.