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Photo courtesy of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Review: Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre—until Dec. 5, 2021

By Asim B. on December 4, 2021



It seems like a lifetime ago when I’ve peeled myself away from the multiple screens at home and work to venture into the great beyond and made the trek into downtown Ottawa to see a show. It’s been 1,330 days to be exact! Life just got a little busier with our kids, so attending live events fell by the wayside to make more time for bedtime stories and teatime with Mr Mommo the sock monkey. Now, tack on a worldwide pandemic and all of a sudden many of us find ourselves in the same boat of only leaving our homes for essential trips. Even the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Artistic Director, André Lewis, informed the packed crowd at Southam Hall that this was one of the first major performances by the RWB since March of 2020.

That said, this was one of the best ways I can think of to break that no-show streak, by heading out to the National Arts Centre. It was a pleasure to experience The Nutcracker as Tchaikovsky’s timeless score was performed by the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The show runs until December 5.

This particular rendition of the play is an all-Canadian version of the classic story where Clara is not only joined by the Prince, the Mouse King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy; there are also Mounties, hockey games with snowball fights, and of course, Filbert the Bear.

There was something for everybody to enjoy, from the beautiful scenery of enchanting dancers to the whimsical antics of Filbert the cake thief. The costume designer, Paul Daigle, did such a breathtaking job with the outfits. I loved how some of the tutus were multi-layered with colourful swirls that made the dancers float through the air when picked up and twirled, and the way other skirts were a layered with rows of ruffles that looked like the feathered wings of a glamorous bird.

Photo courtesy of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

The work of set designer Brian Perchaluk complimented the costumes and set the mood for a grand offering. I loved how the layouts were staggered upon each other to create a vast and majestic setting with a 3D space for the dancers to move through. My favourite scene was the Christmas party, as the columns and ceilings made it seem like we were in the middle of a great banquet hall.

I had a hard time picking out my favourite performance, though if I had to pick one, I really liked the Arabian Dance performed for Clara and the Prince. The dancers’ movements were a blend of strength and elegance that stood out in my mind. However, if I had to judge by the audience’s biggest reaction, it was definitely the pas de deux performed by Clara and the Prince. As my spouse put it, “they had great chemistry, so much talent, and their performance was flawless.”

It’s so wonderful to be able to enjoy this timeless classic with a Canadian twist. I only hope my dreams are as beautiful and fanciful as Clara’s.

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs the Nutcracker in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre (1 Elgin St) from December 3rd to the 5th. All performances have been sold out, but keep refreshing your browser as tickets are sometimes released at the last minute!