I’ve only just started doing reviews here but when I saw a company who had produced a Nutcracker ballet DVD for kids looking for bloggers to do reviews, I jumped at the opportunity.
Should you be unfamiliar, let me introduce Prima Princessa:
Created by two moms – Mary Kate Mellow and Stephanie Troeller – Prima Princessa’s three ballet videos show a combination of professional ballet performances and ballet lessons aimed at young children.
In each video, a ballerina fairy – Prima Princessa – takes a group of preschool children to see a condensed version of a classical ballet. In between acts, they review the story and students from The School of American Ballet – the official academy of the New York City Ballet – teach those watching some basic ballet steps.
Well! As a National Art Centre Ballet series season ticket holder, I’m a long-time lover of ballet. I also have two daughters: a five-year-old who adores dance class and a two-year-old who I already know is musical.
I cannot wait until they are old enough to take to a production of the Nutcracker. My eldest already loves dancing and fairies and, as I discovered one night before heading out to the ballet, can tell you the plot of Swan Lake. So I was eager to try something with them that showed some real ballet.
It’s pure Christmas magic: snow fairies, toy soldiers, tutus, the Mouse King, Clara and, of course, the Nutcracker.
My daughters had never seen the story before, but by the end my eldest was enamoured by Clara and the Waltz of the Snowflakes.
I enjoyed the plot reviews between acts. We watched it twice over the course of a week and my eldest remembered Clara on second viewing – so the story obviously stuck.
She also asked a series of questions about the plot – which I liked. She asked where Clara was when not on stage – so we had a chat about the Ballet Corps; and she was puzzled by the boy ballet dancers, which prompted some discussion about dance not just being for girls.
She also got caught up on the fact that the younger brother broke the Nutcracker.
“Like when you broke my Barbie, mom?”
“That was an accident.”
But yes – she followed the story and it held her attention. She had her ballet Barbie dancing along by the Second Act.
My two-year-old? Not as much. She found the Mouse King scary, and while she loved the Christmas tree and Russian dancers, the dancing parts overall didn’t hold her attention.
That said, she perked up for the dancing examples between acts, which they both tried.
It was a fun way to get them off the couch and moving about.
To drive home various concepts, while repeating the words, the video also showed different activities. For example skiing for gliding …
“Mommy can we ski?”
“Glissade! Glissade!” yelled my youngest at the television, the repetition obviously working there.
Lastly, in between the ballet and instructional pieces, the video cut away to a party of preschoolers in tutus who were following along. While I get how this was aimed at helping the young audience relate, with the exception of the freeze dancing game (which was a DVD extra from the party which my daughters and I did twice), I think this was the piece both my girls – and myself – were least interested in.
Overall my youngest seemed to mostly enjoy the non-ballet bits – the skiing and other activity examples – while my eldest was most interested in the story-telling and ballet proper. Given Prima Princessa states one of its goals is letting children experience the art form of classical ballet on their own terms, I’d say it worked for my 5-year-old. I’m hopeful she’s close to being able to go to – and enjoy – real ballet. And this video helped her to know what to expect and helped me gauge her interest.
If you have a young ballet fan, or you are a ballet fan with young girls who you hope may one day join you, I recommend checking these out. I enjoyed the presentation and simple explanations of the story and, while both my girls were a bit ambivalent about the preschool party, both enjoyed parts of watching the real ballet, real students doing ballet, and explanations and demonstrations of the different concepts.
Prima Princessa’s three videos are available via their website through Amazon. And while you’re there? I suggest you surf around a bit as they have some other fun stuff. As an example, my daughters enjoyed their free colouring pages.
Do check it out.
Everyone can use a little bit of sugar-plum and fairy magic this time of year!
And you can always use an excuse to dance!
Or as my toddler might yell at you? To glissade! Glissade!
I received a free copy of Prima Princessa’s the Nutcracker and a complimentary copy of Prima Princessa’s Swan Lake for this review. My views are my own.