The Nutcracker, Northern Ballet, Leeds Grand Theatre, until December 16. Box office: 0844 848 2700 or at

NORTHERN Ballet artistic director David Nixon has enjoyed a long relationship with Tchaikovsky’s ballet, well into a fifth decade now.

Every few years he revives his gorgeous 2007 production as the perfect winter festive treat to see out the old year in Yorkshire. 2015 was the last such occasion, and this year he has re-imagined his Nutcracker with “sparkling new costumes”, adding still more to the contrast with the grey, wet, drab December world outside.

As ever, snow is falling on the stage front cloth to set the atmosphere for Nixon’s elegant Regency England setting of the late-19th century Christmas ballet. Charles Cusick Smith’s grand designs then deliver a succession of spectacular winter wonderlands as he transports the audience from castle drawing-room party to toy battlefield, snowy fairyland and a world above the clouds.

A particular favourite remains the traditional “transformation” scene at the close of the first act, silver costumes all a’glitter amid the falling snow, beautifully lit by Mark Jonathan’s lighting, as you dream of reaching for your ice skates.

The abiding joy, above all else, is Nixon’s sublime, poetic choreography to Tchaikovsky’s familiar, magical music. Adults and children alike will find it not only enchanting, beautiful, spectacular and charming, but suffused with humour and even a soupcon of mischief too.

Nixon’s choreography is generously democratic, giving so many a chance to shine. On Wednesday night, Jonathan Hanks’s leaping Cavalier and Sarah Chun’s Sugar Plum Fairy were particularly well received; Abigail Cockrell’s Clara was an inquisitive delight, dancing so gracefully with Nicola Gervasi’s Nutcracker Prince.

Thankfully, Brexit could never put a stop to the second-half pageant of international dances, still commanded with a flourish by Matthew Topliss’s Herr Drosselmeyer.

Charles Hutchinson