Curtains closed before a performance at The Grand Theatre

Having seen Casanova and The Little Mermaid of previous years, I was thrilled to be invited by Northern Ballet to see the Christmas performance of The Nutcracker. Even those who have never been to the ballet are likely to have heard of this story being performed worldwide, and it's almost certain you'll have come across the famous music from 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'

Here's a summarised storyline of 'The Nutcracker' if you have never read/heard/seen it before:

"The Edwards family Christmas party is always wonderful, and as they prepare for this year, the children tease other and get ready for the most magical of nights. As the party comes to life, Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives and with him brings incredible presents, including the nutcracker doll for the youngest daughter of the family - Clara.

After the party, Clara leaves her present beside the Christmas tree. Following further fantastical tricks from Dosselmeyer, the wooden figure grows into a life-sized doll. When Clara awakes during the night, she heads downstairs to find that not only the room and the china cabinet are grown but also the mice! The Nutcracker appears and fights off the Mouse King and his minions, with the help of Clara's distraction.

The Nutcracker is then turned into a handsome prince, thanks to another of Dosselmeyer's magical interventions. Clara and her Prince begin a sparkling adventure on a sleigh, heading towards the man in the moon and a whole host of exciting, dancing characters. Clara is soon dancing herself and only stops to witness the most beautiful of all dances by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Clara suddenly awakes in her father's arms, with no sight of sound of the magical entertainment she had witnessed only that night. She is upset. Surely this was not only a dream? With a wink and a nod, Dosselmeyer and the Prince are spotted as Clara is whisked back to bed to dream of fairies, princesses and ballet dancers..."

Tchaikovsky's score, choreography by David Nixon OBE and the incredibly talented dancers made for a very impressive show. The amazing costumes and set design were appropriately festive and the huge, oversized Christmas tree with gingerbread men decorations was a personal favourite.

Although the whole performance brings a magical atmosphere, Act II in particular brings so many detailed sequences and fascinating characters that it's difficult to not fall in love with the dancing.

I've visited the ballet ever since attending dance classes when I was younger and it's genuinely one of my favourite experiences that Leeds offers. Thanks to us having such a vibrant dance community, it's becoming far easier for everyone to get a chance to either partake in dance classes themselves or be able to experience a professional ballet show.

Northern Ballet have various performances coming up in 2019, including Dracula, The Great Gatsby, and the world premiere of Victoria. If you're interested in getting tickets for any of the performances or for further information, visit their website here.

I'm very excited to see what they bring to these stories, particularly ahead of the company's 50th anniversary next year!