NUTCRACKER

performed by The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, QET, December 10-12, 1999

by Ross Pink

The RWB is renowed for graceful dancers and classic productions and this tradition was gloriously maintained with the Christmas presentation of NUTCRACKER.The Nutcracker is based on E.T.A. Hoffman's enduring story entitled The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and the music is by the classic master, Tchaikovsky.This year, RWB presented a new version with a setting based in Canada circa 1913. The costumes were designed by Paul Daigle.

The story opens on Christmas Eve when everyone in young Clara's household is preparing for the family Christmas party.The colorful and eccentric parade of guests include Aunt Josephine. her fiance Edouard, a woodcarver named Drosselmeier, a dancing bear, mice, toy soldiers in vivid red uniforms, the Mouse King and of course, the Nutcracker who comes alive as a prince.

Award winning designer Brian Perchaluk deserves applause for creating a beautiful world with his set design. Both he and Daigle have created an ethereal and fine ambience to the production.

In one scene, as the prince and princess dance centre stage, behind them, shielded by a thin veil, three dancers amidst snow falling, ascend a slope. The imagery was magic.The dancing in general was fine and colorful and presented with the right balance of playfulness and emotion.

It was a sold -out crowd at the QET and judging from the response, the audience from young to old were delighted by another fine performance from the RWB which is under the sure guidance of Andre Lewis, now in his third year as artistic director.

In a brief pre-performance speech, Lewis noted that the RWB has been coming to Vancouver since the 1950s and gave thanks to the loyalty of Vancouver's dance afficionados.