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Ballet Victoria's The Gift a welcome reworking of The Nutcracker The only things better than old pandora leather necklace holiday traditions are new ones.
That seems to be Ballet Victoria's philosophy, based on the company's offering of The Gift, a production that puts a fresh spin on The Nutcracker at the same time that it brings last year's The Gift of Pandora's Box up to speed. It's a move that could have gone badly who dares tinker with Tchaikovsky's classic score? But The Gift would be a welcome annual offering for the way it not only balances nostalgia with new surprises but also highlights the company's increasing skill. The story blends The Nutcracker with the myth of Pandora's box, following a young girl who opens a mysterious present, sweeping her into a world of new cultures and characters. Shepherded by her uncle, a Drosselmeyer like character danced by artistic director Paul Destrooper, and the Fairy of Hope (Andrea Bayne), she overcomes her initial fear of the creatures and characters that emerge over the course of the program. Structurally, it's very close to The Nutcracker, with the first act heavy on the pantomime and the second all about ballet. The company has also held on to Tchaikovsky's score, but for the first time welcomed the Victoria Symphony orchestra to bring it to life. In a time when live music is endangered in the dance world, it was a treat. Minor deviations only drew attention to the company's official pandora jewelry site skill set. The opening scene is familiar a close take on the "party scene," where Drosselmeyer presents Clara with an enchanted nutcracker. Ballet Victoria's party is noticeably pared down, compared with the extravagant sets and costumes that attract many to The Nutcracker. But even without the magically expanding Christmas tree, it loses nothing. One of the company's signatures is a flare for the dramatic, and this is a good fit, showing that the company can hold its own against any other, despite lesser resources. Major deviations enlivened the pandora beads online story and brought it into 2013. Minions from Despicable Me, an amiable Chinese dragon and an otherworldly Avatar populate Pandora's journey in a way that keeps things interesting. The set and effects prove another highlight. From fake snow to the sparkling light that floats up from Pandora's box when she opens it, clever tricks add magic to the production. Principals Bayne and Matthew Cluff lead the way through challenging choreography. Bayne showed precision and discipline, pirouetting in circles around the stage. Cluff, who joined the company last winter, is spritely and strong all at once, making a series of difficult leaps look like a piece of cake. And the junior dancers, who hailed complete pandora bracelets for sale from the Victoria Academy of Ballet, actually danced and danced well rather than just scurrying across the stage as can happen in The Nutcracker. The production was not perfect. The flawless orchestra only highlighted some shortcomings from the on stage piano performance, which sounded more clumsy when it lost tempo or fell out of sync. A Lady Gaga dance sequence might have hit harder with a beat. And while the intention of humour was welcome, the show would still stand without the goofy party moves, which you can find at any wedding.
But overall, The Gift was a gift. The Nutcracker is a good fit for the company, which prides itself on accessibility as well as skill. Better still is a fresh take on it.
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