While the English National Ballet perform the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, The Scottish Ballet are also performing the same ballet at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow among other venues on its tour.
It was refreshing finding tradition is Glasgow. Not that tradition is amiss there, but as a keen follower of the Arts in many forms, I have abandoned the more classic styles recently. Even Matthew Bourne’s current ballet, Sleeping Beauty twists the tradition by keeping Tchaikovsky’s original score but weaving together the old and the new.
The Scottish Ballet’s revival of Ashley Page’s choreography presented a story of images rather than a full narrative. Using the Nutcracker suite by Tchaikovsky, the story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince follows a sequence of stunning dream sequences; some of which are beautifully nightmarish.
How important is it for artists and theatre makers to have a strong basis in their traditional roots? A degree in Art History has certainly suggested its importance. But when does the contemporary become tradition? Can it become tradition? How do we as a society decide what is important and what is not? E. H. Gombrich wrote ‘The Story of Art’ and has become famous for valuing the renaissance artists above all others, dedicating at least two pages just to Michelangelo in only 500 pages that boast of revealing the whole history of Art. The renaissance is now indeed a very important part of our art history but it this because of Gombrich or something else…
So perhaps what we should be doing is exploring the nature of ‘Tradition’. What do we actually mean when we say something is ‘Traditional’. After all, the choreography for the Nutcracker was done by a living artist rather than one from a number of centuries ago.
Talking of traditions, this visit to the ballet with my family has become a bit of tradition. Resplendent with interval drinks, ice cream and programmes not to mention a pre theatre meal, it is one tradition that I hope holds fast. I recommend DiMaggio’s in TheatreLand but maybe bring a hip-flask for the theatre gin. At £6 for a G&T it was a blessing the round was not on me.