Watching The Nutcracker on TV is a holiday tradition my mother and I always had. Each year, we’d cozy up on the couch, under blankets, and watch a recorded performance or an animated version of the story. So when I was given the opportunity to watch and review Alberta Ballet’s 1.5 million dollar ballet live, I knew immediately who I’d bring as my date.
Admittedly, I was filled with trepidation as I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth theatre. After all, this ballet holds great sentimental value to me not only because it’s connected to a mother-daughter tradition, but also because as I child, I used to put all my dolls under the Christmas tree, thinking they would all come to life in a very Nutcracker kind of way. It’s deeply connected to childhood magic – something nothing can really compete with in a grown-up world.
From the truly magical and ethereal movements by the dancers to transcendent Tchaikovsky score played live by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, to the adorable children in rat costumes, Alberta Ballet’s the Nutcracker, presented by BC Ballet, not only exceeded every expectation I had, but blew them out of this world.
I think the small differences in this production from other versions definitely helped keep me (and the other audience members who know the story well) on my toes. For instance, most versions of The Nutcracker are set in Germany; however, this version takes place in turn-of-the-century Russia, where it was first performed in 1892, adding an opulent grandeur to the performance.
I had a truly wonderful time and more importantly, so did my mom. She hugged me right after the performance saying, “It’s really, really beautiful. I’m too excited to sleep,” she says to me now (at 12:20am!). I think I might try, maybe after putting some dolls under the tree.
Ballet BC presents the Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker until December 31, 2011 with Thursday and Friday performances at 7:30pm and two early shows on Friday and Saturday at 2:00pm. Tickets are still available including family packs. Follow @BalletBC on Twitter for additional information.