The Nutcracker 2007 Review

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The Nutcracker 2007 Review

Reviewed by Mike Dixon, Dance Europe

The usual problem with professional Nutcracker productions is that the dancers pretending to be children look too old to be convincing. With Manchester City Ballet (the classical performing company of Northern Ballet School) the syndrome is reversed, since the adults all look far too young; but what gloriously confident young adults they are. The toothpaste smiles may lack maturity of characterisation but the well-drilled, musically aware corps and soloists bring their own virtues to this production. Choreographer David Needham and producer Patricia McDonald should be congratulated on the clarity of expression and speed of attack these performers bring to their dancing.

The company works well in the first act, the only negatives being found in the ageing but still serviceable scenery. The lanky Drosselmeyer of Patrick Carroll Fogg is commanding in every respect, each magical trick presented with an assured flourish. Felizia Roth as Clara and Lauren Wheeler as the Snow Queen seem equally matched in shape and technique.

Act II has a number of felicities, not last being the Arabian Dance of Sofia Ferreira and Christopher Shoesmith. They are both well proportioned: she is pretty and sinuous; he is strong with admirable partnering skills. The Three Ivans of Matthew Norris, Carl Taylor and Adam Denman bring the house down with the musical precision of their routine. Even their cartwheels are exactly synchronised. The Waltz of the Flowers, led by Kirsty Tremayne and Maho Kamakura, is dressed in new-looking dusky blue tutus. A single tree with white flowers forms the fine setting for this number and the ensuing pas de deux. The Sugar Plum Fairy and and Nutcracker Prince of Ayaka Kamei and Samuel Parsons work well together. She has a stronger technique, with good fouettés and pirouettes but he has speed and determination. He is slight of physique but never fails to present his partner like a true cavalier. Kamei has much to offer for the future. Above all, the pair is professional in attitude and this is true of the entire ensemble. On a dismal, wet and cold Manchester afternoon this Nutcracker was a tonic.

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