The Nutcracker at the Theatre Severn FEATURE

A classic ballet for the whole family, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is one of the most famous ballets since its premiere in 1892. Amanda Arnold goes along to the Theatre Severn to see the ballet performed by The State Ballet Academy of Minsk.

The Nutcracker at the Theatre Severn

By Amanda Arnold

The Story

The Nutcracker is one of the legendary Petipa Ballets written by Pyotr I.Tchaikovsky, and is a Christmas story based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by E.T.A Hoffmann.

The ballet tells the story of a little girl called Marie who receives a nutcracker from her godfather Drosselmeier on Christmas Eve intended to console the little girl before she retires to bed.

Franz, Maries brother, also wants the nutcracker and an argument ensues and the nutcracker is broken in half.

Meanwhile the tradition on Christmas Eve is a family dance which brings the evening to a close.

Marie returns to the empty living room to retrieve her broken gift and is suddenly transported into a world of dreams mixed with reality. Her beloved Nutcracker comes to life and he is leading an army of soldiers who are fighting a battle with a horde of mice.

Marie sets out to help her new friend and the Nutcracker wins. The thankful Nutcracker invites Marie to accompany him to the Kingdom Of Sweets as a token of gratitude.

On reaching the Realm of Sweets the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince and is joined by the sugar-plum fairy, who has been summoned to organise a celebration in honour of Marie.

When Marie wakes she realises that this was just a wonderful dream which will stay with her for the rest of her life.


I was lucky enough to catch The Nutcracker which was performed by the outstanding dancers of The State Ballet Academy of Minsk at the new Severn Theatre in Shrewsbury on Friday 11 November.

Surprisingly, even though living in the Shrewsbury area, this was my first visit to the Severn Theatre. I was impressed by the building and the theatre auditorium where the ballet was being performed.

We had fantastic seats which, even near the back of the theatre, were positioned so that every audience member could see the stage which, when watching a ballet and being able to see the footwork of these fabulous dancers, is always a bonus.

This particular ballet is famous for its costumes and the fact that it is performed around the festive season.

The costumes didn't disappoint, they were stunning from the beginning to end and in keeping with the period of the story which was set in the 1800's.

The young dancers were breath-taking, hardly missing a cue or a beat, this Belarus ballet school is exemplary. Some of the young dancers looked to be no more than 12 years old, performing solos of the highest quality and perfection.

This ballet places extreme strain on the young dancers in terms of filigree technique, the need for lightness of the footwork and expressive performances, elements that these young people had no problem in perfecting.

There were only two small disappointing aspects to the evening. The first was the lack of an orchestra, the dancers performing to pre-recorded music which was played through speakers.

I was given advance warning of this matter, but unfortunately, the music didn't seem to me to be in surround sound or terribly loud, therefore it didn't matter how lightly the dancers performed, you could actually hear every single jump and tap, especially when the female dancers were performing en Pointe.

The second was a very small criticism regarding the venue itself. I was accompanied by my Culture Club', a group made up like-minded friends who wish to enrich their appreciation of the arts; therefore there were a number of us.

We all ordered drinks at the bar before the performance and pre-ordered our interval drinks. The waitress who served us was extremely sour faced and seemed put out at having to serve us. A smile and good service doesn't cost a penny, after all.

This is a fantastic Christmas treat for all the family, BritEvents have tickets for number of different ballet companies performing this ballet over the festive season including The Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome and the English National Ballet who are performing at the London Coliseum during December 2011.

State Ballet Academy of Minsk

The Nutcracker was bought to the UK by the youth State Ballet Academy of Minsk's as their guest performance.

Minsk is the capital of the country of lakes Belarus. The dance academy was started in 1928 and is famous for its experience and developed methods which are on par with other internationally renowned ballet schools.

Because of the schools exemplary achievements the Minsk academy attracts students from all over the world, and, once graduating from the academy, the dancers perform on the best stages all over the world including Russia, Paris, London, New York and Tokyo.

The State Ballet Academy of Minsk will be performing next at The Empire Theatre in Consett, County Durham Tuesday 15 November, The Roses Theatre in Tewksbury on Wednesday 16 November, 17 19th November sees the ballet school perform at the Garrick Theatre in Lichfield and they will finish off their UK tour at the Playhouse Theatre in Harlow on 20 November.

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