Review: With a Christmas smash, Scottish Ballet is back

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Dance Dancing

The Concealed Theatre

Online Scottish ballet

Brennan Mary

5 stars

For decades, a family-friendly seasonal ballet has been a staple of the winter programme at Scottish Ballet. It would have been the late Peter Darrell’s The Nutcracker this December, a wonderful midnight adventure seen through a child’s eyes, Clara. Now, with cinematic panache, a mystical world of dancing delights is explored through the eyes of a young boy (Leo Tetteh) in the limbo of an abandoned theatre.

He awakens the latent echoes of past productions when Leo (and his ubiquitous soccer ball) inadvertently invades the backstage area of the theatre. Pop baskets, sets and costumes come into play and separate scenes from Darrell’s Nutcracker and Christopher Hampson’s Snow Queen combine into an hour-long feature that captures the sweep and beauty of live performances in an exciting, seamless cavalcade. To bring this Scottish ballet “premiere” to life on the big screen, a fantastic artistic team has travelled several additional miles. It is an outstanding accomplishment. As for the dancers, as they vividly turn into various positions, there’s no sign of caged bodies.

There’s a happy, insane circus first, then we visit a Roma camp full of wild, swaggering dancers in the rush of a camera. However, the eerie Snow Queen (Constance Devernay) is nearby and easily conjures up a wintery landscape where lace snowflakes swirl exquisitely. Leo’s rapt attention, scene after scene, binds us to the unfolding action until he appears totally immersed in it…. But then the beguiling Sugar Plum Fairy of Sophie Martin and her dashing Prince (Jerome Anthony Barnes) unleash a very unusual magic!

Enchanting, captivating, uplifting – it’s a beautiful testimony to the vision and talent of Scottish Ballet, all waiting for 2021 in the wings.

The Secret Theater can be seen at www.scottishballet.co.uk on December 21-24 – enjoy it!

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