The Cape Town City Ballet hosts the seasonal favourite, The Nutcracker, at the opera stage of the Artscape Theatre Centre this Christmas. Featuring original choreography by Victor Vynonen, the power of Tchaikovsky’s classic piece takes its viewers on a magical journey.
No night at the ballet is complete without a glass of wine, and lucky for me the Artscape bar stocks a variety of beverages to cool things down before the performance. As I take my first sip of ‘cab sav’, I immediately ease up and unwind, and it’s not long till the announcement is made to please take our seats as the show is about to begin. Excitement briefly makes a reappearance as we are directed to our plush, red velvet, fold-down seats and I have just a few moments to glance at my programme before the lights are dimmed and the music begins.
Clara, who is given the Nutcracker doll by her toy-maker uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, captivates audiences just with her smile. With dimples to die for, she prances around the stage with grace you wouldn’t expect to come from a girl so young. As Clara begins to dream, we are transported with her to a fantasy snow land, where she is cleverly transformed by Uncle Dross into the ethereal Sugar Plum Fairy (Kirstel Jensen, of Joburg Ballet fame), and her Nutcracker doll into a prince (who happens to have the perfect derrière for white tights).
My favourite part of the performance by far was in Act Two, where we watch as Clara and the prince meet new friends from different lands. The snowy white outfits and classic ballet techniques that we had become accustomed at the start of the show are done away with, and bright bursts of colour and intriguing choreography are introduced into the mix to keep things light and interesting.
As most of us are familiar with the music from The Nutcracker, it comes as no surprise that Tchaikovsky’s melodies capture the emotion of every scene to perfection. This is matched by the true and utter skill and precision that the dancers of the Cape Town City Ballet exude in this performance – the standing ovation and the repeated curtain calls and shouts of encore are testament to their skill and passion. The stage would be incomplete without the backdrops and props, along with the period costumes which I am told are all locally made – the image as a whole is overwhelmingly decadent.
As young Clara awakens to realise that all she thought she had experienced was but a dream, so too do we as the audience find ourselves coming back down to reality: a place where there are no cute little Bon Bons in tutus (aaw!) or life-size rats that want to eat us (thank God).
I feel that the true test of a ballet performance rests in how seriously the audience is considering taking up professional dancing afterwards, and let’s just say I look damn good in a leotard.
When 15–24 December 2015 (check here for times)
Where Opera stage of the Artscape Theatre Centre, D F Malan St, Foreshore
Cost R160 (R10 discount per ticket for bookings of more than 10), R50 for students with valid student card
Contact +27 21 410 9838, www.artscape.co.za
Photography courtesy Cape Town City Ballet and Hayley Stols