Having had its run of live performances cut short, thank goodness the English National Ballet recorded this gorgeous scaled back festive treat for audiences to enjoy at home.

ENB Snowflakes. Photo: Laurent Liotardo

Taking some of the many highlights of Tchaikovsky’s beloved classic The Nutcracker and scaling it back in terms of both dancers and orchestra is not an easy thing to achieve. But the English National Ballet have managed to still captured the show’s spirit and magic beautifully.

The Nutcracker has been traditionally performed by the company over the course of its history and while many weren’t able to experience it live, the way in which Nutcracker Delights has been filmed makes us feel as though we are there.

Featuring the warm narration provided by Simon Callow, the story is wonderfully set up with the help of the gorgeous illustrations provided by Ain Vares which are brought to life with the careful consideration of Media Nerd Ltd. This helps to retain the family friendly vibe of the show and to keep the younger members of the audience entertained and engaged.

It is elements such as this that reveal that despite (when it was filmed there was a socially distanced audience in the theatre) the ongoing situation, the company was still determined to provide an ambitious and imaginative show. This even includes a lovely hot air balloon sequence complete with vibrant illustrations that make you feel as though you are part of Clara’s adventures.

Everything has been so carefully thought out and designed. Pete Farmer’s designs really make the most of the magic of the story and the costumes really dazzle – particularly during the Waltz of the Snowflakes and Waltz of the Flowers to name a couple of sequences.

Of course, equally delightful is the exquisite dance performances that are all so elegant, playful and charming – leading to so many stand out moments. In particular, Erina Takahashi as the Sugar Plum Fairy is so beautifully light on her feet it is mesmerising to watch her performing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her timing is extraordinary – in perfect timing with the music that really shows off Wayne Eagling’s choreography at its best. Elsewhere, Natascha Mair as Clara offers a delightfully innocent and playful performance that perfectly captures the character.

Performed by the English National Ballet Philharmonic,  Tchaikovsky’s music really soars – despite the fact there is a reduced orchestra, every note has a wonderful clarity about it that makes it a real treat to listen to. Conducted by Gavin Sutherland – there is a wonderful richness that is drawn from the musicians performances.

This really is a captivating way to experience The Nutcracker and is a delight to watch from start to finish. A glorious celebration of this immensely popular show.

By Emma Clarendon

Nutcracker Delights is available to watch on Youtube until the 24th January.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐