Almost as good as the real thing

December 19 2017

Seeing top class ballet on a budget isn’t easy, but the growing trend for live cinema screenings of productions is sweeping the world, and South Gloucestershire is no exception.  The Vue cinema in Longwell Green joined over 1300 cinemas around the globe in showing one of the most famous ballets, and Vicky Drew was on hand to try it out for us.

Think Christmas, think The Nutcracker, the wonderful ballet with the infamous dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy which has been delighting ballet fans for years.  Seeing The Nutcracker is a delight to behold, however the cost of a ticket alongside travel to The Royal Opera House in London is prohibitive to many which is why it it is good news that The Nutcracker is being screened in cinemas around the world.

On opening night screenings were taking place with the added bonus of an introduction by Darcy Bussell, the Strictly judge and a former ballerina who once performed the demanding and mesmerising dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy herself.  

This particular performance by The Royal Ballet debuted in 1984 and showcases the talents of the company, both young and old.  At first it seems a little strange to be listening to the sounds of The Opera House in a Vue cinema, however being able to see close up shots of the orchestra and having a sneak peek backstage (which is strictly off limits to the average theatre goer) is certainly an advantage.

As the curtains open on stage, hush befell the cinema and it was a relief that rustling popcorn did not feature in this particular cinema screening.  The opening scenes of The Nutcracker have a stage filled with action as Christmas is celebrated and Clara is presented with her nutcracker soldier.  It is during these scenes that being in a cinema is a little frustrating as the camera dictates which area of the stage is in view and at times the camera action is a little jerky as shots flick between close-ups and whole stage. Soon the focus shifts to fewer characters and the magic of the dance is able to dominate the experience.

As the mysterious magician Drosselmeyer seeks to break the spell that turned his nephew into a nutcracker soldier, he guides Clara through a world of wonder and magic.  Being able to view the performance so close is a real treat and enables the audience to marvel at the skill of the dancers.

With the added commentary, cinemas audiences are given an insight into the casting and rehearsal schedules of the dancers which is both informative and entertaining.  For the die hard ballet I am sure that the cinema experience is no substitute for a night at the Royal Opera House, however anything that makes ballet accessible and more affordable to the masses can only be a good thing.  And for me it really did bring a touch of Christmas to the cinema.