Theatre: The Nutcracker (Royal Opera House Cinema)  

The magic of Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker was enhanced by the thought that we, in our comfy seats in the Apollo Cinema in Lower Regent Street in London, were sharing an experience with fans across the world.
My young companion and I are not ballet people, but we could well be after our first experience of live streaming in the Royal Opera House Cinema season. We both agreed that seeing ballet performed through a cinema screen allowed us to follow the action, understand the story and therefore really look at the artistry of the dancers.
This makes you want to see more. Ballet is more than just dance: it is storytelling, design, skill, athleticism and theatre. Cinema-goers are served up invaluable added treats – two behind-the-scenes films: Polishing The Nutcracker and The Magic of the Nutcracker in which backstage secrets are revealed – the dressing of the enormous Christmas tree, how the sleigh, a glorified milk float, works, and the adjustments that are made to the magnificent costumes. There are also insightful rehearsal scenes. Notable was Christopher Carr, Guest Principal Ballet Master, in charge of staging for this production, eyes darting round the room like a cat eyeing prey, demanding the smallest adjustment from his dancers, making the difference between brilliance and perfection.
The Nutcracker earns its place as a Christmas classic. The story of magician Drosselmeyer and his nephew Hans-Peter, trapped in the guise of an ugly Nutcracker until released from his spell by an act of bravery and the care of a young girl, is the original feel-good tale. The Stahlbaums’ Christmas party is like any – cheeky boys, elders dancing and gifts galore; seeing Clara as she magically shrinks – her delight turning to fear as the battle between the mouse and the soldiers ensues and then onwards to the magical Land of Snow and a breath-taking display of dance.
Astrid Finlay writes: It is a beautiful ballet and the dancers had such pretty costumes. I would like to see more contrast between the real and imaginary worlds. Seeing the ballet at the cinema made it easier to understand the story because you can see the action more clearly. I liked Clara the best because she was a really good actress and the Chinese dance was fun. I would recommend this to someone who likes ballet or needs to relax as I found it very relaxing. I noticed them doing steps that I do in my ballet class but they do it a lot more gracefully than me!
Next up in a cinemas near you is a delayed live performance of La boheme (The Royal Opera) on January 15 and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (The Royal Ballet) on March 28. Look also at the website for some great resources including rehearsal scenes.