The Nutcracker, St David's Hall

There's something appropriate about being entertained at Christmas by a ballet company from one of the chilliest parts of the Russian continent.

When the ballet is Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and in beginning those characters trip through the snow to homely festive fires, the setting is complete.

What happens to the storyline afterwards in the land of dreams is of course geographically widespread. The reveries take on their most colourful form in the second act.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, formed just 30 years ago, gave it their all in this opening performance of their latest Christmas residency in the capital, where they are also performing Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

In their part of the world, these classics are staple, but if anything and because of that the expectations are even higher. Familiarity breeds a deeper love; you don't want the object of your affection to change.

Everything about the production is traditional, though the variations in choreography and narrative are subtle and sometimes surprising. Anna Aulle’s Marie and the corps de ballet are young and dainty and compare strikingly with Dmitry Sobolevsky's tall, high-leaping Prince - and Margarita Nosik's Arab Dancer, performing the earthiest set-piece I've seen in this ballet for a while.

Most of these dancers have been to Cardiff before and there’s always a certain amount of role-switching. The company’s orchestra is again ably conducted by Alexander Yudasin.

The Russians, who could do these things blindfolded, never perform below a rigorously high standard.

The company’s in Cardiff until January 2. Ring 02920 878444 for box-office. Book online at www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk

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