Review-The Nutcracker-The Hong Kong Ballet


By: Lisa Middleton

No Christmas would be complete without The Nutcracker, even for a temporary Bah Humbug like me this year.  The story was an adaptation of E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and The Mouse King, and it was a very interesting adaptation indeed.  Think Inception-esque Nutcracker – a dream within a fantastical children’s tale – to me, pure genius. Congratulations Terence Kohler!


The Hong Kong Ballet is internationally recognised as a world-class institution so the quality of this production did not disappoint in any way. From the wonderful set design to the finest detail in the costumes – everything was first class. (Set and costume designs for this production were by Jordi Roig.) The skills of not only the principal dancers but the Corps de Ballet were clear even to my untrained eyes and the  Hong Kong Sinfonietta, conducted by Gerry Cornelius, was a delight to the ears.  


The first stand-out performance for me in Act 1 was Scene 2 where Clara finds herself in the middle of her favourite dolls' Christmas Feast. The dancers within this scene were amazingly in tune with each other and portrayed their individual characters with what seemed like ease. At times I was so engrossed I forgot to take notes. The timing of the dancers was impeccable and quite remarkable with so many things going on at the same time.  My second rewarding moment from Act 1 was The Great Battle, Underneath the Christmas Tree. The Rat King and the Nutcracker made the choreographic action within the battle vivid and visceral to the delight of the audience.  The attention to detail in costume design was outstanding and the glowing eyes of a rat fading away after it was slain especially tremendous.  Also a special mention must go to the ‘snowflakes’ costume design, another mouth-open moment for me.


The atmosphere of the theatre really came into itself during the intermission; watching young children rush to the front of the theatre to look down into the orchestra pit and practice their ballet steps was a beautiful sight to see – almost melting my Humbug heart – almost...  


Act 2 opened with an even more visually stunning set.  Maybe it was my seat's prime location but I really felt I was inside that Christmas tree. As Clara (Candice Adea) and Fritz (Shen Jie) travelled to the top of the Christmas tree, the dolls hanging on the tree came alive and followed them.  This was the most challenging part of the adaptation for me as I could not see how it could possibly work.  How to include Spanish, Egyptian, Chinese, Russian, French, and Italian dancing dolls into a classic Christmas story?


I was mesmerised by the physicality of the Egyptian pas de deux. It had me holding my breath – the strength, radiance, and physique of both these particular dancers (Gao Ge and Frank von Tongeren) were beyond anything I have ever seen before. 


The Nutcracker and the Ballerina were the main characters within this Act and their dancing was certainly first class, with my one criticism the facial expression of the Ballerina; this was her prophesied true love coming to life yet her face made no attempt to portray any consequent emotion to the audience.  


Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this production for which everyone involved should be utterly applauded.  Thank you for melting my heart a little tonight!

Oh and Merry Christmas, I suppose, to one and all...


The Nutcracker is playing through December 28th. For more information, click here.



Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 5.0


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