3: Hansel & Gretel

Having attended the Scottish Ballet’s Hansel and Gretel workshop, I was enthusiastic to attend the actual performance. I hoped to see how the movements we used were incorporated into the show and to see the true technical qualities of the dancers we had worked with.

The show started with young dancers being lead into the wicked witches house. I was impressed to observe the inclusive nature of the performance and it showed the extent to which Scottish Ballet worked with professionals and young dancers.

The performance had a modern twist which reminded me on Matthew Borne’s Nutcracker. The story was led by Hansel and Gretel but the professional dancers were involved at various points to provide technical ballet.

The mother provided excellent example of a mother who relied on her kids and loved her husband. Her husband and his friends enacted a funny drunk dance. Which was difficult to perform but also amusing. The evil witch had a great cape and this was used to best effect to make her appear fairy like and mystical. The best transformation was the evil witch. The contrast of the glamorous witch had four levels as a schoolteacher seducing her pupils with sweets pre-curtain then she turns late-night vamp as Hansel and Gretel set off through the town. Later, she rides in  splendor on the backs of Ravens into the pair’s dreams. Finally, the Witch reveals her true, vile appearance.

Witch Before                                                                                          Witch After

I particularly loved how she started with a beautiful dress and hair but when the children entered her house she put on a cardigan with a hump, fluffy slippers and a wig with little hair.

The performance had excellent use of props. I particularly liked how the table became a cage, the witch descended on a moon, the fire killed the witch and the toy cupboard released toy dancers.


I saw the sequence set in threes that we had performed to show the t-birds as energetic members of the community.

I saw the sequence we had performed where Hansel hid behind Gretel and used torches to move through the forest. I admit my leg did not go this high!

Some of the scenes in the forest were quite dark. They were nicely contrasted with more pleasant scenes as shown below.Scottish Ballet dancers as Dewdrop fairies in Hansel and Gretel by Christopher Hampson. Photo: Andy Ross

Act II is, ironically, softer in tone. Hampson’s use of classical ballet moves was more prominent and the dancing has less storytelling to do.

There were strong technical dancers in pink dresses who seamlessly worked with great technical standard and pathway across the stage. I know some of the dancers go to Preston Clare’s class (which I also attend) I noted they always kept their hands high in second which is a sign of his training.

I felt the best dance was the toys who came to life. They were wobbly and I particularly liked how they forward rolled into the cupboard. I felt this could have been a fantastic area to enact with children.

Hansel and Gretel had solos and this showed for the first time their dance ability rather than acting.

The darkest part of the story should have been the caged children and the killing of the witch where the fire turned from red to green (as shown below).

I felt, however, the most disturbing section was when the witch chopped the head off of Hansel’s wee teddy he had carried throughout. I liked how the head was put back on for the walk down!!!! It made me feel better!!!!!

I felt the children performed well after their release at the end (picture above). They showed their technical training and the wee one at the front had all the moves and attitude. I felt this would allow children to access the performance.

So having watched this, I am taking sweets into school on Monday, as it showed what I know already children will do anything for sweets!!! lol

Visually sweet and emotionally dark, Scottish Ballet creates a satisfyingly complex Hansel and Gretel

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