Ballet for boys...

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker

BALLET – it’s just not for blokes. At least, that’s misconception a lot of folk labour under about the ballet.

Rather shamefully I have to count myself as one of those who never got it; never saw it as something for me.

I say shamefully because I now have a ballet-mad four-year-old daughter who lives and breathes all things pink, princess-like and, above all else, ballet.

And when the Vienna Festival Ballet company announced they were coming to St Helens for a performance of The Nutcracker, it was a locked-on certainty I’d be booking two seats in the front row.

I have to admit I went along to the performance without sky high expectations of what the following two hours had in store for me.

Stumbling across ballet on TV once or twice while channel-hopping is pretty much the limit of my knowledge.

But, as with many things in life, the goggle-box really doesn’t do ballet justice.

It is only live and on stage that you can even begin to comprehend the mind-boggling levels of skills required to perform at the level of the Royal Vienna Ballet.

And it is only live that the real thrill can truly be translated.

The Nutcracker is a classic tale of a little girl whose Christmas present is mysteriously brought to life.

After defeating hordes of marauding rats, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince (the former toy) skip off to a magical land of sweets and flying carpets, before being brought back to earth.

What the Vienna Festival team do so well is tell this simple story in a straight forward and easy-to-comprehend way.

The clever and colourful costumes used throughout kept my little girl in raptures throughout.

But it is the dancers and their extraordinary performances that really steal the show.

Lead dancers Richard Hackett and Melanie Cox pull off a number of moves to perfection which left the audiences dizzy.

Russel Grant’s turn on Strictly Come Dancing may have hooked the nation but this was the real thing.

At two hours, it was a long show.

There were plenty of young audience members but none of them got restless at any point during the performance.

That in itself is a testament to this show’s enduring appeal.

Andrew Moffatt