Ballet is top Xmas treat; Ballet.
Byline: Hilarie Stelfox
THE Nutcracker is one of the world's most popular classical ballets and a particular favourite at Christmas.
With its magical storyline and scope for sparkling backdrops and beautiful costuming it has the added attraction of an enchanting score by Tchaikovsky.
Northern Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, currently on tour but returning to Leeds next month, is a perfect first ballet for children and families who have yet to try the genre - an alternative to panto, perhaps.
It has stunning Regency-style sets and atmospheric lighting, with costumes and choreography by Northern Ballet's Artistic Director David Nixon OBE and live music played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.
Premiered in 1892, the year before Tchaikovsky died at the age of just 53, The Nutcracker tells the story of a little girl, Clara, and her brother, Frederick, who are given a box of dancing dolls and a strange wooden nutcracker doll for Christmas by their uncle.
Unable to sleep on Christmas Eve, Clara tiptoes downstairs to find that she has entered a world where giant mice and a toy army, mustered by The Nutcracker, are about to do battle.
She helps the Nutcracker to defeat the Mouse King and is transported into a snowy fairyland with The Nutcracker, who has been transformed into a handsome prince.
Clara is introduced to the Sugar Plum Fairy and the ballet reaches a climax as dancers - from Arabian Princesses and Russian Cossacks to French ballerinas - all perform in her honour.
The iconic part of the Sugar Plum Fairy is taken by first soloist Lucia Solari, who says the character is every little girl's embodiment of a ballerina.
Tchaikovsky's musical score will be familiar to many as it contains the pieces in his famous Nutcracker Suite that became one of his most famous compositions.
Northern Ballet, winner of the Best Company at the 2014 Taglioni European Ballet Awards, is one of the UK's five large touring ballet companies.
The Nutcracker opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on December 16 and runs until January 2, 2016.
Ticket details are available from northernballet.com/nutcracker
The Nutcracker by Northern Ballet for winter 2015