GENTLE snow fell on more than 50 dancers on stage as Southern Youth Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker came to an end. As the dancers held their final positions, there was a moment of hushed silence.
Then sound erupted as the capacity audience rose to its feet.
The story of Clara and her journey to the Land of Sweets has been known to ballet fans since the 19th Century. But with local teenage dancers in the leading roles and 36 professional musicians in the orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Roberts, this production was a breath of fresh air.
Liz Buckland founded SYB in 1996 and has presented cameo productions of full-length ballets ever since. Her dancers come from numerous different dancing schools over a wide area and the youngest dancer is a mere eight years old.
Erin Perry, 17 was a delight as Clara, her face lit with wonder by the magic that she was witnessing, thanks to her Godfather, Drosselmeyer (Lorena Perez, commanding the stage) who gives her the Nutcracker doll. Swiftly dealing with an invasion of mice, she and the now human Nutcracker (Edward Davies) are transported to the Land of Sweets where Clara is welcomed and entertained. Senjoritas in a Spanish dance, cute and funny Chinese dancers and a group of Flower Fairies, led by ballerinas Yuriko Evans and Hannah Pearce being just some to mention.
Tchaikovsky’s music may be very familiar to some, but this familiarity cannot dim the charm and amusement that these vignettes bring. SYB includes another treat in their production: the voices of the Eastbourne Gilbert and Sullivan Singers. Our thanks to them.
The final accolade goes to the breath-taking duo who danced the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince.
Born and raised in Eastbourne, Isabelle Cronin, 18 was gossamer light as Sugar Plum and has an endearing personality. Her pas de deux with Luke Crook was spellbinding. Both raised in Eastbourne, I predict a bright future. Next year will see The Tales of Beatrix Potter at the Congress. Jemima Puddle-Duck and friends invite you all. Tamara Shiner.