A NIGHT at the ballet around Christmas time to see The Nutcracker is a yearly tradition for many, and for me this show always aids the festive spirit.

The Subscriptions Rooms in Stroud was a fitting venue to play host to the Vienna Festival Ballet, which tours around Europe for most of the year.

It was pleasing to see that this classical ballet with its iconic music score by Tchaikovsky had been brought, unstuffy, to a family audience.

Many in attendance were children who gathered together practising their ballet moves and watching the dancers in awe throughout the performance.

The ballet began with the dancers proceeding excitedly through the audience onto the stage, on their way to a party on Christmas Eve. We saw a range of characters, from the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer and comical dancing grandmother with her love of a sly tipple, to the spoilt Fritz and his sweet, sensitive sister, Clara.

Music was provided via a sound system, which meant that the atmosphere ultimately created by a live orchestra was lacking. However, one of the stated aims of this ballet company is to bring classical ballet to the public at affordable prices, and therefore the lack of a full orchestra was entirely understandable. The same presumably goes for the simple backdrop of a Christmas tree in Clara’s home throughout the show.

I was impressed by the skill and control of the principal dancers, particularly given the limited stage space and the demands placed on the small troupe of dancers to dance several parts.

My companion was especially captivated by the acrobatic endeavours of the male dancers in the Kingdom of Sweets during the second part of the ballet, while I enjoyed the intricate movements of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

While it would be unfair to compare this performance of The Nutcracker to the standard expected of The Royal Ballet or a night at the Bolshoi Theatre, we left The Subscription Rooms having very much enjoyed our evening.