SCOTTISH Ballet’s show for younger audiences speaks volumes about its engagement with the wider community, both onstage and off. This mini version of Christopher Hampson’s Hansel & Gretel is not only taking quality ballet to a wide geographical audience, but many of the dancers performing it are students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Scottish Ballet: Wee Hansel & Gretel, Theatre Royal, Glasgow ****
Alongside three professional company members, performing the central roles of Hansel, Gretel and the Witch, the young dancers take on a myriad of characters with a lightness of touch, ideally suited to a children’s show.
At just 50 minutes long (versus the two-hour original), Wee Hansel & Gretel shrinks but doesn’t skimp. Gone are the longer routines that would have little ones looking for a distraction, but the integrity of the dance still holds. This is a ballet, not a pantomime, and choreography is the beating heart of the storytelling.
That said, narrator James Siggens – who bookends the show with audience interaction and pops up mid-way with a quick re-cap – is a welcome addition to the show. Siggens’ easy but engaging manner is pitch-perfect, his rhymes clever yet easy to follow.
Any show aimed at three to eight year-olds has to have a regular supply of theatrical trinkets to keep children hooked. Here, they come in the form of dancing toys, a beautiful set reveal, playful naughtiness from the siblings and a little dark wit.
Touring from Shetland to Greenock, Inverness to Dundee, this charming, bite-size ballet is proving Scottish Ballet is indeed a national company for all ages.
On tour around Scotland until 26 October