Fairytale treat for children

The Nutcracker @ Theatre Royal, Norwich. By Sarah Hardy.

The Nutcracker @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

By Sarah Hardy

What a fairytale treat for children in half-term week. Toys coming alive, frothy costumes, candy-coloured sets, lively music, plenty of magic and adventure and, best of all, a trip to the Land of the Sweets.

This Tchaikovsky classic receives a highly traditional treatment at the hands of the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, a company made up of young dancers from the Vaganova school which basically feeds the world-famous Kirov company.

They claim to perform ballet the way it was intended and that's certainly true as the dancers are technically excellent, especially the principal ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova, who brings a great deal of charm to her role as the young Clara.

Her set pieces, which involve much point work, with the Nutcracker Prince, Aleksandr Zhembrovsky, are a delight while the large corps de ballet perform in perfect harmony – the result of much disciplined training.

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Mention should also go to the Snow Queen, Anastasia Kolegova, who epitomises grace and the orchestra who perform the famous score, including the much-loved Sugar Plum Fairy number, with great aplomb.

This is a lavish production with impressive scene changes, countless costumes and a large company. It should appeal to all who like their ballet unsullied by modern gimmicks, but might appear stale to those who prefer the likes of the Northern Ballet Company and their dramatic productions.

This is the fourth visit the company have made to Norwich and let's hope they return soon. It should be remembered that it's still a treat to see dancers from the former Soviet Union – regarded by many as the leading exponents of this art form – in this country.