Number 41 | Live a childhood dream …

As a kid I was obsessed with ballet stories. In fact, a couple of years ago I went on Amazon and bought a copy of three ballet stories I had when I was a child and re-read them. They were about a girl who goes to a fancy dance school in London and spends most of her time dreaming and trying to see and do all these famous ballets. I had never seen any of them as a child and my first opportunity came a couple of weeks ago when Ballet Theatre UK performed ‘The Nutcracker’. Here’s the plot (taken straight from the internet):

The Colonel and his wife are giving a party on Christmas Eve for their two children, Clara and Fritz. Friends and family arrive at the house including the children’s uncle and their eccentric old aunts, Angelina and Caterina. Soon the room is filled with delighted faces as the Christmas tree is revealed and the children receive their presents.

However, the mood is suddenly transformed with the arrival of a mysterious magician, Drosselmeyer. With him are three entertainers that have come to the party to perform for the children. Drosselmeyer has brought Clara a very special Christmas present: a strange nutcracker in the shape of a handsome Prince, which Clara immediately adores. Excitedly, the children dance round the room with their new toys, but Fritz breaks Clara’s nutcracker. An uncle quickly mends it and Clara wipes away her tears.

After the party, the servants dim the lights and put out the candles on the Christmas tree, plunging the room into an eerie darkness.

Unable to sleep, Clara creeps back into the darkened room to find her nutcracker. She falls asleep on the floor, clutching the nutcracker in her arms. As the clock chimes midnight, Clara wakes with a start to find giant mice running around her. Drosselmeyer mysteriously reappears and transforms Clara’s nutcracker into a real live handsome prince, who leads the toy soldiers into battle with the mice and their leader, the evil King Rat.

Clara strikes a fatal blow to King Rat and the battle is won. As a reward, Drosselmeyer sends Clara and the Prince on a wonderful journey. They travel to an enchanting land of ice and snow, where they meet the beautiful Snow Queen and the Snowflake Fairies. The Prince dances with the Snow Queen and Clara is surrounded by the dancing Snowflake Fairies. The Snow Queen gives Clara her sleigh and the everybody waves goodbye as her journey with the Prince continues

Clara and her Prince are welcomed to the colourful Land of Sweets by the Sugar Plum Fairy who commands entertainment for her special guests. A non-stop banquet of dances begins, representing sweets from far-off lands: Spain, Arabia, China, Russia, France and England. The entertainment comes to a close with the delightful Waltz of the Flowers, followed by a spectacular grand ‘pas de deux’ danced by the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Finally, all the entertainers bid Clara farewell as she slowly drifts to sleep.

The Land of Sweets miraculously transforms back to the familiar drawing room where Clara’s parents find her asleep on the floor, still clutching her nutcracker doll. The Colonel lifts her in his arms and carries her back to her to bed when, out of the blue Drosselmeyer appears. Was this all a dream, did it really happen, or was it simply another of Drosselmeyer’s conjuring tricks?

IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT. I’ve now finally seen something I only read about as a kid! I got to see the actual Sugar Plum Fairy dance (everyone knows the bit of music she dances to, written by Tchaikovsky). There were men in tights and not much else! Okay, so without a plot to hand, I couldn’t work out some of it – some of the dances were representing sweets and coffee from different countries but I didn’t realise that until afterwards – but it WAS SO GOOD. I need to see more childhood things now.

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