Margaret Hunter directed her own new forty minute youth and family ballet – The Perfect Gift – for Waterford ballet Academy at the Theatre Royal. It was a beautiful, colourful and gentle look at a child growing up in a rural setting and wanting to give her hardworking and pregnant mother a perfect gift.

Ada, the young girl touchingly played by Maddison Cuss was wonderful with a sense of innocence and brave determination as she set off on a journey of adventure and wonder. Denver Cuss brought a nice maturity to the role of mother, protective, yet willing to let her daughter explore the world.

Ada’s journey brought her on a sea voyage where she met some beautiful gold children who delighted the audience. They were Siomha Nutty, Katelyn Boyle, Emma Mae Frampton, Sophie Lyons Power, Beth McLoughlin-Power, Emma Curtin, Kaleigh Hearne, Sarah Mackey, Laura Jane Walsh, Kate Curtin and Rebecca Kennedy. Caoimhe Ridgard led a band of pirates while Aoife Ridgard, Emily Power and Juliana Kikkers were pearls of great beauty. The setting changed into a garden scene with excellent back clothes to compliment beautiful costumes. Shauna Roylance led a wonderful bunch of wild orchids and Helen Cahill, Clare Burtchaell and Emily Dundon were flitting butterflies.

Saoirse O’Brien led a troupe of fabulously costumed peacocks while Ava Fanning,

Caoimhe Power, Grace Power and Ava Fallon were humorous court jesters.

Sarah Fanning led a cluster of rubies as Sinead Avitabile, Izzy Rush, Shauna Warren, Charlotte Govier, Nadia Engela, Lisa Fleming and Aoife Heffernan were sparkling diamonds.

Ada returns to greet her new baby sister and learn the beautiful lesson that the most wonderful of treasures and the perfect gift are often at home.

A short first half programme featured a marvellous Suite Franciase to Yann Tiersen’s music with beautiful clockwork chimes. Lydia Thorpe and Sarah Fanning were excellent.

Ava Fallon and Juliana Kikkers were delightful in Life Is So Peculiar and Tara Ramasawmy shone in a funny Messy Bessy.

I loved the music of Marc Shaiman (Hairspray and Bette Midler) in Big, Blonde and Beautiful featuring Niamh Burke, Orla Burke, Helen Cahill and Clare Burtchaell.

Leonard Cohen’s Democracy was the feature music for a wonderful dance where hand gestures suggested the Statue of Liberty with Izzy Rush and Shauna Warren in splendid form.