The Snow Queen

Hans Christian Andersen tends to be thought of as the writer of charming and harmless fairy stories for children - a view perhaps encouraged by the Danny Kaye film. However his stories tend to have a hard and sometimes bitter edge to them.
The Snow Queen tells the story of a magic mirror, created by an evil sprite, which makes everything look ugly: when it breaks and showers the earth with shards, one gets into the eye of a child, Kay. He is abducted by the Snow Queen and forgets his home and his friend Gerda. She searches for him, and after a number of adventures in which strangers eventually help her on her way, she find him - his buried love for her overcomes the enchantment: he weeps for joy and the shard is washed out of his eye. (See this link for a detailed plot summary.)

The English National Ballet premiered a new ballet of the story in October and yesterday evening I saw it at the London Coliseum. The choreography is by Michael Corder and the principal dancers were Erina Takahashi as the Snow Queen, Yosvani Ramos as Kay and Fernanda Oliveira as Gerda.

The plot has been necessarily streamlined from the episodic original. Here the mirror is created by the Queen but broken in fury when she sees the love of Kay and Gerda in it - they are young adults rather than children. In the original, Gerda falls in with a band of robbers, including a young girl who initially threatens to kill her, but ends up giving her a reindeer to go on her way. In the ballet, this character becomes a gypsy girl Gerda is kind to in the first scene - linearizing the plot, but rather missing the point that it is Gerda's innate goodness and innocence which leads the people she meets to help her, often against their own inclinations.

The ballet is well presented and danced, though the choreography is often routine and the whole atmosphere misses much of the darkness behind the story: however Gerda's despair in her search is clear enough. The Queen's icy palace and her evil needed a little more passion; but overall an enjoyable and attractive production.

Posted: Sun - December 16, 2007 at 09:25 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM