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Snowflakes dance during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson
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English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at Liverpool Empire

Last night we had the enormous pleasure of going to see the English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool.

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I must start by saying I am slightly biased, having done ballet from age 4 – 18, but even those new to Ballet couldn’t help but be blown away by this performance.  For those who haven’t seen the Nutcracker, it’s a beautiful story set on Christmas Eve.  Clara’s family is having a party and all the guests bring presents – one of which is a Nutcracker Doll for Clara.  Unfortunately her brother, Freddie, breaks the doll in his excitement, but Dr Drosselmeyer manages to mend it.  Clara then goes to bed, but has a nightmare where her Nutcracker is attacked by the evil Mouse King.  This sets the scene for all the various dolls and puppets coming to life to perform the most amazing dances concluding with the legendary dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Clara awakes and realises it’s all been a dream.

Everything about this production was superb.  The set was delightful, with an outdoor scene of everyone arriving for the party and skating outside.  The ballroom, as always, is decorated beautifully and provides the perfect backdrop.

The dancing was sublime.  Shiori Kase as Clara in the dream was simply beautiful to watch, in fact all the dancing took you to another place.  The snowflake scene was simply mesmerising and when the children started to sing it was just beautiful.  The music accompaniment was faultless and mention must be made to students from Tring Park School who performed various roles including singing.

Credit must also be given to the costume designers, I think any little girl would adore any of the female costume on show but the costumes for the snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy (which alone requires over £2,000 worth of man hours and fabric) were just stunning.

I defy anyone who goes to watch this not to have goose bumps and feel all Christmassy when they leave.  For those of you who love the theatre and might have seen the Nutcracker in Liverpool 3 years ago (as I did), or on tour, this is the same production, but for me it never fails to take your breath away.   I can’t recommend it enough.

If you are taking young children, it might be a good idea to explain about the Mouse King before going in!  When it first appears it may be a little scary (as it’s such a good costume) but if you explain that the Nutcracker and his soldiers defeat him and it’s all just a dream, hopefully you can all sit back, relax and really, really enjoy it.

The nutcracker is on at Liverpool Empire Theatre until 30 November so catch it while you can as it then heads back to London . For more information and tickets:  https://www.ballet.org.uk/production/nutcracker/

Alina Cojacaru dances the Grand Pas De Deux in English National Ballet's Nutcracker at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool on November 19, 2013. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker

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