Throughout 2016, Scottish Ballet has shown itself to be a heavyweight on the international dance scene. Works such as Angelin Preljocaj’s MC 14/22 proved that the company didn’t shy away from darker, more challenging pieces. But to balance your repertoire (and your books) you need to let in some light – which is exactly what Hansel & Gretel does.
Scottish Ballet: Hansel & Gretel ****
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
For despite the more macabre aspects of this Brothers Grimm tale, choreographer Christopher Hampson and designer Gary Harris have given their production a warm heart and a liberal dose of sparkle. Embellishing the original 1812 story with characters from Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera, Hampson has also added a few touches of his own.
The eponymous children are no longer abandoned in the forest by their father at the behest of an unkind stepmother, but venture off themselves in search of lost friends. Along the way they encounter a Dew Drop Fairy with her pointe-shoed pals and, via a dream sequence brought on by hunger, dancers dressed as chefs and sweet treats, to name but a few.
It all adds up to a lively, colourful display, nicely juxtaposed by the wood-panelled interior of the witch’s gingerbread cottage. Somehow brighter and more magical than when the production first opened in 2013, Hansel & Gretel now slots perfectly into the Christmas show model. Strong choreography, beautiful costumes, wit, charm and a happy ending, all driven by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra’s smooth delivery of Humperdinck’s gorgeous score.
*Until 31 December