One of the world’s favourite ballets, The Nutcracker, is set to take Galway audiences on a wondrous adventure full of quintessential Christmas magic when it visits the city later this month.
Set on Christmas Eve, The Nutcracker tells the magical story of the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer who brings gifts for all the children. However, when midnight strikes, very strange things start to happen…the Christmas tree grows to incredible heights, Clara’s magical Christmas gift, her Nutcracker, leads them into a fairy-tale world and, with her heroic Nutcracker at her side, Clara defeats the Mouse King and his army of mice, and they journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets together.
Describing it as a “timeless” piece of art, Jeanette Keane, General Manager of Ballet Ireland, says The Nutcracker is a ballet people love in its traditional form.
“The ballet has stood the test of time over the years – it’s like Christmas, it never gets old and each year it feels new again.” But, she adds that it’s important to keep the show fresh for audiences.
“While our choreography has essentially remained true to the traditional production, every year we do update the choreography to showcase the unique talents of the dancers. For example in our Russian Dance, audiences are sure to be wowed by the incredible athleticism of the virtuoso jumps!”
The Nutcracker was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 18 December 1892. Jeanette thinks the show stays relevant in the same way that fairytales do.
“It’s a mixture of timeless elements, as a young person enters into a world of romance and adventure. It simply is the world’s most beloved ballet – a household name for a reason!”
This year’s production of the Christmas classic also features two young dancers from Ireland. Asked if she thinks children still relate to the ballet’s message, Jeanette replies, “Most certainly! Children are mesmerised by it.” “It’s pure magic the way the toys become ‘alive’, the rats and soldiers go to battle – children love this scene and are in awe at the size of the rats and the snow falling. The mix of Tchaikovsky’s music for Snowflakes, the dancers gracefully pirouetting and jumping through the snow evokes such a feeling of awe.”
She adds, “The Sugar Plum Fairy is an icon who appeals to all ages, from the very, very youngest members of the audience up.” Describing a performance of The Nutcracker as a “special occasion” Jeanette believes the ballet is not just for kids; there’s “really something for everyone”.
“For children seeing it for the first time, it’s absolutely unforgettable – I know I remember my first time seeing it. I was delighted to be able to introduce my own little girl to it when she was four, and she’s really excited to go see it again this year.
“And then for adults too, it’s such a delicious treat, such a quintessentially Christmas experience.” The music in The Nutcracker is also so memorable, with Jeanette adding, “Tchaikovsky simply got it right!”
“The music is used each year on television and radio making this music synonymous with Christmas and universally recognised. There’s such a variety to the music, from the lyricism of the music for the Sugar Plum Fairy to the drama that appears in the score for the battle scene.”
The Nutcracker takes to the stage at The Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November at 8pm. Tickets €22/€18. See www.tht.ie for more.