The Nutcracker - English Youth Ballet

Norwich Theatre Royal

> Norwich Theatre Royal

A packed house thrilled to the brilliance and life displayed in this shortened version of the famous Russian ballet.

As the curtain went up, all I knew was that 106 eager young dancers from all over East Anglia had trained intensively over a five-day period (with smatterings of evenings in between) and I was about to see the fruits of their labour.

And to say that the evening was impressive would be an understatement.

From the first moment, when the mechanical dolls in the sorcerers workshop took life, I knew I was in for a treat. Here was dancing full of humour, and natural touches, which I would have been avid to see in an adult production.

As the scene changed to reveal the fairytale house where the children would celebrate Christmas, the choreography was packed with wit. Principal dancers were professional, but Clara was taken by fledgling ballerina Harriet Bunton, who lent the role an endearing gaucherie.

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Part two in the land of sweets was a riot of colour and fanciful costumes. Nothing quite as adventurous as the dangerous-looking Vaganova school harem queen I saw in February, but jolly and entertaining set pieces, which made you (secretly) want to clap along.

I couldn't help thinking that how happy it might have made Tschaikovsky that a ballet which it seemed to me he wrote as a gift, full of delights was, for this one night, a dream come true for for such a talented young cast.