Glen Street Theatre, Sydney
November 30 2012
By Linda Badger.
Sydney City Youth Ballet brought us a delightful production of the Christmas classic, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. With all its festive charm, it was the perfect way to start the last few weeks leading up to the biggest celebration of the year.
A beautifully adorned stage with great details evident in the set, props and costumes was revealed in an opening scene created to take guests on a journey of fantastical proportions, into the imagination of a little girl named Clara.
Choreographically adapted for a young cast who were playing most of the lead roles, this was a very good show for a student-based production. Under expert direction, and with a scattering of professional and ex-professional dancers, this show was overall an entirely entertaining and delightful experience.
The opportunity to be involved in a full-length production for young dancers, whether they are hoping to one day make dancing their chosen career or not, is priceless experience and training. With mostly seamless set changes and many overlapping roles within the casting of the ensemble, the company and its crew should be applauded for a job well done.
There was opportunity for much talent to be showcased, with a rotating cast for the lead roles, so that more than one group of dancers could have their moment to shine. The guest artists included past Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy student Halaina Hills, who is now a dancer with The Australian Ballet. She danced beautifully with her pas de deux partner Christopher Rodgers-Wilson, also with The Australian Ballet.
The strengths of the production were definitely the visual design aspects, with much detail and a sense of authenticity about the costuming, sets and props. Complimented by the commitment to the acting of the roles played by the students, there was not a dead moment, and not a cast member not fully engaged. This drew us in as an audience and kept us wanting to see what came next, even for those who have seen this particular ballet multiple times.
Weakness came unfortunately in the technical side of the dancing, across all ages of the student body involved. There were many beautiful lines with students trained to create exquisitely lengthened arabesques and développés, but transitionally, much was left much to be desired. In saying this, however, one must remember that these were mostly students and hopefully with continued guidance their understanding of the movement will be developed more fully in the years to come.
There were some extremely strong technical dancers scattered amongst the lead and ensemble roles, notably the dancer playing the doll in the opening scene and the young dancer portraying Clara in this particular cast. They were exciting to watch.
Musicality was strong most of the time, but there were moments where it could have been better utilised. This is most likely a skill set still in the development stage.
Overall, this was a sweet and entertaining ballet. It was very family friendly for those of all ages. The young cast was talented and performed with a strong sense of conviction. I really look forward to seeing all that the future holds for the young dancers in the SYCB Company.