Dance: Too sweet to be wholesome

THE NUTCRACKER ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET LONDON COLISEUM

DEREK DEANE'S production of the English National Ballet's Nutcracker isn't quite good clean fun if you are an adult and paying attention. Drosselmeyer is Clara's godfather and the implicit tone of his attentions towards her are clearly inappropriate. The threat of paedophilia provides a subconscious logic to the sinister figure he cuts in her dreams, but it is odd for a ballet that is a traditional children's treat.

Childish eyes presumably don't take this in. Perhaps they won't be too disturbed, either, by Clara's dysfunctional family, her philandering father inviting his mistress to their Christmas party. But that, too, gives psychological sense to Clara's escape into dreamland; and besides, it is part of Deane's wittily contemporary staging, where the women wear chic cocktail dresses and one guest conducts a domestic squabble on her mobile phone. The audience laughed at the Robotcop, Barbie Doll and Michael Jackson lookalikes which arrived as Drosselmeyer's dolls.

Derek Deane, returning to performance after almost a decade, comes close to dominating the whole show as Drosselmeyer, vividly painting the character's ambiguous fascination. His mime is wonderfully incisive as he summons the magic which delights the party children and populates the dream; but he also shows he has lost none of his smooth partnering skill in a long, strenuous pas de deux with Clara.

Alice Crawford as Clara, and Xian Zhang as her naughty brother, Fritz, are adult dancers who seem no older than the real children on stage. Crawford, whose twiglet arms could probably snap, has toned down her simpers and curlicued affectations, making her a charming Clara.

The best dancing, though, comes from Daria Klimentova as the Snow Queen, so icily precise, her series of profile arabesques seem etched on air that has suddenly solidified. Around her, dancing Icicles and Snowflakes build a flurry of crisscrossing lines as angelic children's voices sing with orchestra under Patrick Flynn's textured direction.

The rest of Deane's choreography is less interesting, especially in the Kingdom of Sweets. The set numbers seem surprisingly predictable, although the giant moving bags of candies are a witty invention. Sue Blane's designs - so elegant in the earlier scenes - are part of the problem here. It was a fun idea to take English confectionery as her inspiration; but Liquorice Allsorts are more colourful than beautiful.

Perhaps it would have had more sparkle for me with a different couple in the focal pas de deux for the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Thomas Edur takes great care to move with clean geometry, but he is not an exciting virtuoso. Agnes Oaks lacks stretch and her phrasing suffers from a monotonous sameness. I can only conclude that the popular appeal of this partnership rests on their blond, catwalk glamour.

To 9 Jan: 0171-632 8300

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent