Peter Darrell, who is the founding director of The Scottish
Ballet, choreographed ‘The Nutcracker’. The performance was first choreographed
by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1892 and Darrell created his own version in
The first act begins with the Colonel and his wife throwing
a party on Christmas Eve with their family and friends. The children are given
their presents before Drosselmeyer, a magician, appears and gives Clara a
Christmas present, a nutcracker. Clara’s brother, Fritz, breaks her nutcracker
prince which is soon fixed by a relative. Later in the night, Clara struggles
to sleep and goes to find her nutcracker, falling asleep on the floor. Clara is
awoken when the clock strikes midnight to find herself surrounded by huge mice.
Drosselmeyer returns to change the nutcracker doll into a real prince. A battle
between the Prince and his soldiers and the mice and King Rat begins, Clara
attacks the King Rat, winning the battle. Clara and the Prince are sent to the
land of ice and snow, by Drosselmeyer. They are then met with the Snow Queen
and her Snowflake Fairies. To end the act, Clara and the Prince leave on a
The second act commences with Clara and the Prince arriving
in the land of sweets, where they are met by the Sugar Plum Fairy. There are a
number of dances performed to signify sweets from different countries including
Spain, Arabia, China, Russia, France and England. This is then followed on by
the Waltz of the Flowers and finally a pas de deux, performed by the Sugar Plum
Fairy and the Prince. Clara then falls back asleep and we are returned to the
room where her parents find her still clasping the nutcracker and then carry
her to her bed.
The story of ‘The Nutcracker’ is set in Germany, in the late
1870’s. The main characters are Clara, the Prince and Drosselmeyer.
Darrell effectively uses movement to represent the main
characters’ roles. Clara is a young girl who is excited about Christmas and
receiving her nutcracker prince, therefore, her movement involves many jumps
and turns to show her emotions. The Prince performs big, strong movements to
show power, this involves a lot of fast pirouettes and grand jetés. Drosselmeyer performed sudden
movements as well as appearing as if he was floating, this represents his
magical and mysterious personality.Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the score for ‘The
Nutcracker’. This includes two very famous pieces: ‘Ballet, Op.71, Act II: Variation II: Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy’
and ‘Ballet, Op.71, Act II: No. 13 –
Waltz of the Flowers’. The style of music throughout is classical and an
orchestra is used to produce the music. This consists of piccolo, flutes,
oboes, English horn, clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoons, horns, trumpets,
trombones, tuba, timpani, tambourine, triangle, cymbals, celesta, harp,
violins, violas, cellos and double basses.
The costumes and set were both designed by Lez Brotherston.
Brotherston’s job was not to design his very own costumes and set from scratch
but as he said, “It’s been to work on
what Darrell originally wanted – but at the same time acknowledge that those
sets and costumes, as fantastic as they were, were designed 40 years ago”.
The costumes reflect the choreography and characterisation
greatly as they are very elegant and authentic in the first act, showing the
audience clearly when the show is set. They suit the style of dancing, as the
women wear long dresses and the men wear suits, during the time setting. In the
second act, the Sugar Plum Fairy wears a beautiful, sparkly tutu and tiara
which shows her authority and the snowflake fairies all wear the same white,
sparkly costumes which represent snow effectively. The Prince wears a red
jacket with white tights which makes him stand out and replicates the
nutcracker doll. The sweet characters all wear outfits that clearly represent
the countries they are from, from the style and colours of their costumes to
the style of dance. Drosselmeyer wears a type of cloak or cape which represents
him as a magician.