The Nutcracker Ballet at the Royal Opera House

Tonight’s write-up is of The Nutcracker ballet, which we saw last weekend at the Royal Opera House.

Image courtesy of


Holly’s review:

On Saturday (14 December 2013), we went to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, London. I really enjoyed it because it was amazing. The talent in all the ballerinas … my gosh … it was just out of this world. I don’t know how the ballet dancers stay on their tippy toes for so long but they do and it’s so amazing. The whole show was beautiful. Every step, every twirl was practised to perfection. It really showed how hard they had practised, it was just mind-blowing. Finally, I would like to thank all the musicians, ballerinas, costume designers, special effects, the people backstage, director and finally I would like to thank the Paul Hamlyn Fund for without them we would never have had this chance. And last for giving me the best Christmas present.


Gary Avis as Drosselmeyer, photo courtesy of


Sam’s review:

When I received an email saying I had an opportunity to attend the special Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat performance of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, I pirouetted at the opportunity (sorry for the poor attempt at a pun). Normally, attending such an event would have been out of the question because of budget but the enormous generosity of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation made it possible for me, Holly and Carl, as it has for nearly 200,000 other people experiencing world-class ballet for the first time. We had lovely seats in the Stalls Circle and had a fantastic view of the ballet.

I’ve been a fan of Tchaikovsky’s score since I was a child but seeing it put to dance truly was magical especially as I’ve never seen a ‘proper’ ballet before. I understand Holly’s awe at the performance because the dancers were truly incredible. They made every move look effortless and the grace of both the women and men (and children!) was beautiful. The skill and agility of the dancers was almost unbelievable and Holly was so moved by it all that she asked if she, too, could start learning ballet. Holly and I thought the fairies at first were on wheels, thus was the smooth, gliding motion, but they were on tiptoes moving across the stage. The costumes and set design were amazing and the attention to detail exquisite. Really … I am starting to run out of superlatives and compliments here but we were completely in love with the production.

At the interval we were all treated to a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse at how the sets are put together and watched as stage hands vacuumed up snow flakes and laid a new floor. We saw the massive hanger behind the main stage where all the sets wait to be used and a helpful man talked us through what was happening and gave some impressive figures about how they can shift enormous amounts of props and sets within seconds.

This is pure storytelling magic. Despite the fact that there are no words spoken at all during the ballet, the story comes through clearly. In the first half, Clara helps the Nutcracker break the spell placed on him in fighting the Mice. The joyous celebratory dances of the second show off the traditional ballet steps to great effect and I loved listening to the orchestra playing the various pieces (the Arabian Dance is one of my favourites for its exotic melody).

And yet we would not have necessarily had this treat had it not been for the kindness of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. We are very grateful for the opportunity afforded to us and hope we can attend another performance. If you ever are offered the chance to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, or at one of their live screenings in cinemas around the UK, please do make the effort – you won’t regret it.     

For a look behind the scenes at The Nutcracker, you can watch this lovely video.

Have you seen a ballet before? Tell us about your experiences!



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