The Nutcracker that the successful Argentinian choreographer Demis Volpi created for Royal Ballet Flanders transcends the borders of the ordinary daydream and throws the door wide open to a fantastical, slightly sinister universe in which Freud’s interpretation of dreams is never far away. More than ever, a story for all ages, but no longer merely a Christmas tale.
Demis Volpi and his artistic sparring partner Katharina Schlipf decided to go straight back to the original source: E.T.A. Hoffmann. The original story by this 19th-century German author was marked by his obscure, restless style with abrupt shifts in time and perspective. The story of little Clara (in the book, Marie), who receives a nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve is about entering the world of adults. A process in which she is guided by her intriguing, extravagant uncle Drosselmeyer, who has mastered the art of balancing perfectly between boundless fantasy and reality.
These ingredients certainly promise an original, richly layered version of the ballet. Mind tricks, humour and clever plot twists: the production has it all. A promise that is equally borne out when we are introduced to the costume and set designs by Katharina Schlipf. What we see are more than mere outfits, but incarnations of characters. They are dandies, extravagant divas and other creatures who would be right at home on the catwalk for Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen.