When you’re opening a Christmas cracker, or cracking open a nut for that matter, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised, and on other occasions the contents are distinctly corny.
But despite George Balanchine’s beloved choreography and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s divine music, the Royal Danish Ballet’s Christmas production of ‘The Nutcracker’ at Gamle Scene, the sacred home of the country’s ballet scene, felt like the latter.
The glossy packaging was there – throughout the scenographers worked wonders with see-through walls, optic tricks that enabled giant Christmas trees to retreat 100 metres into the distance, and an ending as splendorous as Helios the sun god himself – and so was the expectation.
A pretty much full house, ten performances into what must be an arduous run for its younger cast members, whooped, gasped and marveled at an opening that had zest and ambition.
Like a bad joke
But like most Christmas crackers once they’ve been opened with a loud bang, the contents were a disappointment, and like the jokes, it felt at times that it was deliberately bad.
Hoop man got caught in his hoop, the boy on the far right didn’t know whether he was coming or going, the young leads were comatose in the second half, and even the lead dancers fluffed a hold.
In fact with all the posh kindergarten-age kids squawking for Papa, at times this more resembled a Nativity play than one of the world’s most celebrated ballets.
Ballet X Factor
The costumes improved after the break, but overall there was a disconnect between the two acts.
So by the time the two young leads made their dash back to the land of the living, we’d pretty much forgotten that this was a dream and not a garish version of ‘Ballet X Factor’.