The Nutcracker holiday tradition delights in Vancouver

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet reimagines the classic Nutcracker story with small Canadian twists that brings it to life. I remember seeing this once as a kid, and ever since I’ve been struck by the beauty and desperate to go back. It stunned me as a child, and this retelling kept me captivated as well.

Set in 1913 somewhere in Canada, the story follows Clara, her Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy as they dance the night away in Clara’s Christmastime dream world. I loved the simple touches that connected this to Canada: Mountie uniforms, a fight on Parliament Hill, HBC blankets, and ice hockey on a frozen pond. Although set over 100 years ago, the magic still feels incredibly alive.

“We excitedly present this ballet each year as it ties our past to our future. We are very happy that Vancouver is part of our exciting touring season and that we are working with Ballet BC again,” shares André Lewis, Artistic Director of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. “Nutcracker is an outstanding traditional piece of classical ballet repertoire where we see dancers in our Company grow into new roles and bring their unique artistry to the characters.”

Although I could say much about the dancers, I’ll stick to just a few here. I couldn’t get enough of Thiago Dos Santos as the Drosselmeier (her Godfather). His grandiose performance kept everyone in line and really stole the show for me, however Sophia Lee as Clara was also stunning. Her chemistry in some scenes with the Nutcracker Prince (Liang Xing) felt effortless, just like her dancing. For some, there were moments that felt out of place or

Many young dancers also participated in this show, primarily Kelsey Miller as the young Clara who showed great promise – and many other young children as bears, rats, and angels. Says Ballet BC’s Artistic Director Emily Molnar, “casting over 70 talented, aspiring young dancers from close to 20 dance schools across the Lower Mainland, this presentation also gives us a chance to support the local dance community and marks the first opportunity for these young dancers to perform with a professional ballet company.

Although occasionally slow on the changes, each set was elaborately decorated and reminiscent of a time since past. The costumes brought to life some characters, however others got mixed together with too many pastels. It made the Chinese dancer in the ‘Kingdom’ stand out in her gorgeous blue costume, but the Sugar Plum Fairy felt distant.

Overall this was a really fun show, something great to take the family to and start a new tradition – and a new love of theatre and ballet for young ones.