Review: The Nutcracker, Moscow City Ballet, Lyceum

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FROM the first strains of the famously familiar Tchaikovsky overture you know you are in for a treat. And when the curtain goes up you are not disappointed.

The sumptuous cloths set the scene for a production which has all the signs of a traditional Petipa ballet but then springs a few surprises – not least in the rearranging of the characters and the dances they perform.

This version is directed by the company’s founder and artistic director Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and the choreography is described as after Marius Petipa. In this case long after and significantly different.

But the seasonal favourite has all the essential ingredients, even though the first act Christmas Eve party can be a little confusing.

But the real joy of The Nutcracker is the second half divertissements and the company is shown in all its glory with dance after dance performed with a joie de vivre which is sometimes breathtaking.

The grande pas-de-deux is a thrill well worth the ticket money alone, with Alevtina Lapshina and Talgat Kozhabaev on top form with a dance that is both daring and delicate.

The Arabian, Flower, Chinese and National dances were also outstanding and showed the strength in depth of the company.

The 18-strong corps de ballet effected spectacular tableaux and to see them in the confined space of the Lyceum stage at full tilt sent a shiver down the spine.

The secret of The Nutcracker’s enduring success is that it is a perfect fusion of music and movement.

It really is a cracker.

Alan Powell