Monica Loughman’s The Nutcracker, Dublin

The Nutcracker at The Convention Centre, Dublin


I went to Monica Loughman’s The Nutcracker in The Convention Centre Dublin last night. It was the opening night but not just for Monica Loughman Ballet but also in a way it was my opening night too as one, I hadn’t been to the newly built Convention Centre yet and two, hard as it may be to believe given my love for all things cultural, I hadn’t been to a real Ballet performance before. I’ve been around the world, I’ve witnessed so many styles of dance from many nationalities. I was an avid jazz ballet dancer as a teenager (think school musicals) but yet I had up until last night never witnessed a real ballet.

So what did I think? Did it live up to my expectation? I loved it and Yes! The first thing to note was the Convention Centre itself. It’s a brilliantly built building and even though the show was SOLD OUT it never once felt over crowded or manic. There were plenty of staff around to direct you to your floor and the layout was clean and simple. We took the escalators up to our floor which might I add could prove scary for those amongst us with acrophobia or vertigo, so be warned if your floor is anywhere past the second and get one of the lifts instead … which I might also add, are big enough to fit a couch in and have a stylish art deco feel to them.  There were obvious queues for drinks and snacks but that was to be expected. There were lots of mums and dads with their ballerina wanna be kiddies … cuteness!  My Fiancé’s niece was there with her mum and dad, how exciting it must have been for her as she attends ballet classes so I’d say she along with all the other little kids pirouetted all the way home afterwards and straight into bed to dream of one day being on that stage. We picked up our brochure, were shown our seats and waited for the lights to dim and for the music to play.

The performance was amazing. I was captivated by the way the dancers effortlessly glided across the stage almost defeating gravity. They gracefully leaped through the air, pirouetted and danced to the ever familiar music that is Tchaikovsky. I couldn’t believe I recognised so much of his work. It must be etched in our brains from the musical toys we are given to lull us to sleep. The Nutcracker story itself is fun and festive and is set around Christmas Eve when Clara and her family host a party in their house. Clara is given a Nutcracker doll by her uncle which comes to life after the clock strikes midnight and helps her defeat an army of evil mice by leading an army of toy soldiers into battle. When they do defeat the mice, the Nutcracker is transformed into a Prince and takes Clara through the enchanted woods to a land of sweets where they watch the Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian dancers and where the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince dance a Pas De Deux (an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique). After all the excitement and before too late Clara wakes to find herself back at home and in the room where the Christmas party took place and there with her is her Nutcracker doll.

Ballet has a new fan. I absolutely adored it. So much so that I am eagerly awaiting the next Monica Loughman Ballet productions … La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Children of Lir, Spartacus … count me in! Attending the ballet will not only become my new Festive tradition each year but I hope to learn more about it throughout 2013 and over the coming years too.

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Edwina O'Connor
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