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The Snow Queen (tour – Tunbridge Wells)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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There are two dependable ways to entice the next generation of theatregoers through the auditorium doors. One is through pantomime, the other is through ballet and, judging by the audience for The Snow Queen, Ballet Theatre UK are doing more than their bit to keep that next generation coming.

Their production of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale works perfectly as a ballet aimed predominantly at children. The story is easy to follow, the characters are either good or bad and there’s even a happy ending.

Ballet Theatre UK is a fine example of a mid-scale touring company who, without external funding, provide a very good product at a very reasonable ticket price. This year the production has been furnished with a fine selection of new costumes, a new and very captivating score and brand new choreography, which gives the piece a really fresh and vibrant feel.

Before curtain-up there was an elongated blackout, combined with overly dramatic music, which left a few of the youngest audience members audibly distressed, but this soon faded once the curtain rose to reveal the Snow Queen and her attendants admiring a magical mirror. Amee-Louise Cordeux is suitably regal in the title role but lacked, slightly, the feeling of menace and danger that one would normally associate with the character.

After the prologue, the action transfers to the village where best friends Gerda (Julia Davies) and Kay (Jesse Milligan) are dancing merrily and greeting the other villagers. Grandmother appears and tells them the tale of the mystical character, The Snow Queen, and the legend of her curse to wrest winter upon the world forever.

With a cast of only 12, many of the dancers play two or three characters during the piece, but care is taken to disguise that fact as much as possible. All the female dancers are the epitome of strength and beauty and, without exception, they traverse the stage with grace and style.

The male dancers, sad to say, need to tighten up their performance. Technically, some of them seem lacking and all the dropped pirouettes cannot be blamed on the lack of a central spot on which to focus. Having said that it was noticeable that, during his solo, one dancer (Luca Varone) chose for his focus a spot in the wings and, although unorthodox, he used it well.

Ballet Theatre UK seems to be a platform for the next generation of dedicated and hardworking ballet dancers. Their youthful energy and enthusiasm for the art form, all showcased in such a fine production, will no doubt inspire the next generation of audience members to return again and again.


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