It was a wonder-filled night of dance when The Nutcracker opened in the Lyric Theatre – Queensland Performing Arts Centre on Friday 13 December 2019. Under the Artistic Directorship of Li Cunxin AO, this is the seventh successive year the festive classic has been featured by Queensland Ballet.
From commencement to conclusion, The Nutcracker is a treasure trove of characters, moments and movement. As that personality packed Christmas party at the Stahlbaum’s home concludes, the fantastical journey unfolds.
To the delight of any child or childlike heart, it includes the Lemonade Sea, Land of Snow and Kingdom of Sweets where the enchantment continues to charm us. The Nutcracker is the ideal introduction for children or newcomers to the wonderful world of the ballet genre.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the iconic ballet score, with its familiar musical excerpts, back in 1893. Conducted by Nigel Gaynor, Queensland Symphony Orchestra solidly provided the live music for the performance.
Ben Stevenson’s masterful choreography and characterisation brings to life the wonderful, whimsical array of characters within this beloved, balletic tale. The tremendous range and diversity of characters in the story enables the casting of multiple talented dancers in showcase roles.
Chiara Gonzalez was a sweet Clara Stahlbaum and prior to princely transformation, Kotei Iwamoto was the nutcracker. Paired with Lucy Green, he was also the male lead in the Flower Couple.
The fairy-tale transformation brought forth in the role of the prince, Victor Estevez. Shouldering the lion’s share of dance time, Estevez was dominant throughout the performance. The technique and stamina of this principal dancer was particularly evident in the pas de deux pairings.
Principal dancer, Yanela Pinera was an ethereal Snow Queen, while recently promoted Senior Soloist, Mia Heathcote epitomised the lovely Sugar Plum Fairy. Their delicate and intricate movements were framed by beautiful, dreamy tutus.
Noeline Hill is to be congratulated for her detailed and delightful dressing of the company and guest performers. Noeline freshly interpreted the wonderful costumery of the late designer, Desmond Heeley. Even the giant mice looked elegant in their grey attire.
Whilst all of the characters were wonderful, special mention must also be made of the delicate, skilled performance given by the Chinese dancers, Mali Comlikci and Luke Dimattina.
The Nutcracker provided a delightful and merry conclusion to a wonderful year for both Queensland Ballet and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. I look forward to the tremendous repertoire of performances promised for 2020.
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Friday 13 December 2019 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 21 December 2019
For more information, visit: www.queenslandballet.com.au for details.
Image: Chiara Gonzalez as Clara Stahlbaum in The Nutcracker – photo by David Kelly
Review: Michele-Rose Boylan