His first trip to the ballet

This post is a review of the Scottish Ballet’s Wee Hansel and Gretel, for which we were given three press tickets.

I fell in love with the ballet in 2013, a freezing January in Edinburgh when I saw the Scottish Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. It was an experience that truly moved me and one that I’ll never forget. In an attempt to relive that feeling, I’ve been to see it another few times and I still find it as magical as I did then. Getting tickets to see The Nutcracker at Christmastime is becoming a bit of a tradition for me, and I hope that my children will enjoy it as much as I do.

As an introduction to the ballet, we took Nathan along to The Dundee Rep to see the Scottish Ballet perform Wee Hansel & Gretel last weekend. We were given press tickets and invited to review the performance, which is aimed at children aged three upwards. It’s exactly the sort of thing I would choose to take Nathan to so it seemed an ideal opportunity to find out what he thought of the theatre.

We arrived The Dundee Rep on a bright but freezing Saturday morning. Dozens of children filled the foyer with their parents who were buying tickets and desperately trying to usher their kids upstairs. There was a buzz in the air, and it wasn’t just from the chitter-chatter of excited children and the hurried voices of their parents; as always in those final minutes before a show begins, as people find their seats and get comfortable, there was a cloud of excitement and anticipation hovering in the room.

A mere fifteen minutes after schedule (pretty impressive, given there must have been a hundred families all trying to leave the house to get to The Rep in time), the show began. It was introduced panto-style with a man reminding us about the magic of fairytales, before Hansel and Gretel appeared on stage to the sound of Engelbert Humperdinck, recorded live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

The dancers were all wonderful, which was no surprise – the Scottish Ballet is an excellent company both in terms of its productions and its legacy – and Hansel and Gretel were very convincing as the vulnerable children who, by the end of the tale, emerge as strong, clever kids.

Nathan was mesmerised by the ballet for the first half of the show (after he uncovered his ears and looked to the stage – the introduction was quite a noisy affair which he was not mad about) but he fell asleep halfway through. Unfortunately he wasn’t feeling too well that weekend, the proof being that he never falls asleep on us, so he really must have been feeling rotten. Despite this, he enjoyed watching Hansel and Gretel they made their way through the woods before they were kidnapped by a raven and a witch in disguise.

If you know the fairytale, you’ll know just how dark the story gets… Nathan had fallen asleep by the time the children arrived at the gingerbread house. While he slept, the witch revealed her true identity and started to fatten Hansel and Gretel up with sweeties and cakes, so she could eat the children. Perhaps a good thing that Nathan missed the horror of the show, but it meant he also missed the beguiling gingerbread house, with its beautiful cakes and desserts.

We had such a lovely morning at the ballet with Nathan and it was pretty special the two of us taking him out on his own (Kittie stayed with her Grannie, even though babies were welcome). I can’t wait for the Scottish Ballet’s next kids’ performance… whether Nathan wants to go or not!

Despite his nap, we actually had a great time and the experience very much lived up to my expectations. While Nathan snored softly, Kris and I sat mesmerised by the chef’s ballet – a nimble, energetic dance made all the more intriguing by the antics going on in the background… the wicked witch was hunched over, poking and prodding Gretel in a bid to make her eat more treats while Hansel was trapped in a cage, all the while they twirled and rolled and danced their way around the table.

Images: Kris Miller.

Location: The Rep, Dundee.

We were given three press tickets in exchange for a review. With thanks to The Rep and the Scottish Ballet. 



  1. Janette Millet 7th November 2019 / 18:43

    What a great experience. He does look mesmerised but shame he wasnt feeling his best. Great to encourage wee ones to performances like ballet.
    Not sure he would like panto. Very raucous and noisy. Cousin James wasn’t keen. Fingers in ears and can be quite scary. Think they meed to be older for that.
    Good experience this was for Nathan though.Wonder how Kitts would have reacted.

    • Christina Miller
      10th November 2019 / 08:40

      Yes, agree – think panto would be too much for him as the only noise he likes is the noise he makes himself! Ballet was the perfect introduction to the theatre and we would definitely go back. Kits wouldn’t have sat still! But hopefully one day they will both enjoy it. X

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