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A poem for Scottish Ballet

By Rob Foxcroft

It has been a great pleasure to watch the making of Scottish Ballet's new production of "The Nutcracker", and to find that Peter Darrell's child-centred version of this enchanting work has all its old magic.

After seeing the new production at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, the following lines started to surface in my mind. They are just light verse, of course - but a smiling face can have a lot of feeling - a lot of memory - behind it.

To the members of The Scottish Ballet

14th December 2014

O dancers, and musicians too,
A letter follows, just for you!
In nineteen-hundred-eighty-seven,
When Peter Darrell went to heaven,
He left a will, and this contained
The way his works might be sustained:
He foolishly appointed me
To be his heir and try to see
How best to keep them on the stage
Through all the changes of the age.
The task was hard. He had not said
A word of what was in his head.
I learned with very great surprise
That I was asked to be so wise.
Last night I came through on the train,
Enduring winter’s cold and rain,
To see your bold and vivid show.
I wondered how his steps would go
On bodies groomed on other styles,
Unused to Peter’s arts and wiles.
I knew your legs would be just fine,
But would your arms sustain the line?
Would they express the story’s mood,
And every gesture be imbued
With meaning, character and thought,
As Peter always showed and taught?
Would idiosyncrasy be caught
In just the style in which it ought?
I found that I need not have feared;
There was not anything too weird.
The ballet shone, it gleamed and swayed,
The storyline was well conveyed,
And many feelings flooded through
The hearts of those who used to view
The company that Peter led,
Who heard from him the words he said,
Who saw him move and saw him cry,
Who saw him laugh and saw the sky
With stardust filled, and every child
Enraptured, with a heart as wild
As those of Clara and of Fritz,
Enjoying all the little bits
Of childhood magic, cheek and play,
The rats so fierce, the mice so fey.
Last night we found ourselves in rapture.
The company were quick to capture
The narrative in Peter’s mind,
The children’s world, so bright and kind,
The vivid story in the dance,
The drift of every passing glance.
I loved the re-imagined space,
The costumes rich and full of grace,
The lighting placed with easy skill
That leads the viewer where it will,
The fine musicians in the pit,
The music at the heart of it,
So sumptuous and full of joys,
With tunes whose elegance and poise
Made dancers’ bodies light and free,
So very light there seemed to be
A world of weightless energy
In which your bodies planed and soared
(And none of us was ever bored).
I have a great deal more to say
That must await another day.
It’s time to end these thanks in rhyme
For an experience quite sublime,
For giving life upon the stage
To steps made in another age
(When Julie wrote them on the page),
Whose still-invigorating life
Dissolved the residue of strife,
So that we thought of nothing sad,
But only things that made us glad –
A thousand humble thanks are due
To every single one of you.

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