If it’s Christmas it must be the Nutcracker… again

ENB Nutcracker

Yes, it’s back – the dancing snowflakes, the giant Christmas tree, the sugarplum fairy and the nutcracker that turns into a handsome prince. One of the great ballet favourites is making its regular Christmas appearance and this year Londoners have a choice of two brilliant productions. Here’s my introduction to them both, including details of the Japanese dancers in each one.

Nutcracker Arabian Dance

Laura McCulloch, Ryoichi Hirano and Johannes Stepanek in the Arabian dance, The Nutcracker, ©Johan Persson/ROH 2010

First up: The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Their magical production opens tonight.  It’s staged by Peter Wright and designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman and has been going since 1984, which gives you an idea of how much it’s loved. It’s the snowflakes that do it for me every time in this production – total magic.

Nutcracker Snowflakes

Nutcracker Snowflakes  ©ROH

The Royal Ballet production runs from 4 December 2013 to 16 January 2014. It’s already sold out but there are often returns (check online) and always day tickets (queue at the box office at 10 am on the day). There’s a live cinema relay on 12 December.

Nutcracker Chinese Dance

Iohna Loots and artists of The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet © ROH/Johan Persson, 2009

The Opera House are even doing a Nutcracker afternoon tea, which apparently offers ‘a fantasia of fancies’, including a chocolate fudge cake Christmas tree.

The Nutcracker

Emma Maguire and Alexander Campbell in The Nutcracker © ROH/Bill Cooper, 2012

The Royal Ballet has a good range of dancers from Japan – if you want to know more about them take a look at my analysis of their form. Three of them will be appearing as the Sugar Plum Fairy:

Hikaru Kobayashi on 20, 31 December (matinées)
Akane Takada on 2 (matinée), 10 January
Yuhui Choe on 8, 13, 16 January

And Ryoichi Hirano will dance the Nutcracker on 8, 13, 16 January.

Kobayashi, Choe and Hirano are all First Soloists, with Choe tipped to become a Principal before too long. Takada is a young dancer starting to take on her first leading roles.

Yuhui Choe

Yuhui Choe as The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker © Johan Persson, 2008

Next, the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum. ENB have performed the Nutcracker in their Christmas season for every one of their sixty years of existence (including their former incarnation as the London Festival Ballet).

ENB Snowflakes

Snowflakes © Caroline Holden

The current production was first staged in 2010 by their previous director, Wayne Eagling. In contrast to the Victorian setting of the Royal Ballet, this Nutcracker is Edwardian, featuring a giant balloon in which Clara is carried off at the climax of the first act.

ENB Balloon

Hot air balloon © Annabel Moeller

They are offering three Japanese dancers (though they have more than that in the company). I’ve not done a post on the Japanese dancers at ENB yet – one for next year!

Lead principal Erina Takahashi will be dancing Clara on 14, 20, 23 (matinée), December, 2, 5 January
Soloist Shiori Kase is Clara on 17,(matinée)  21 (matinée), 28 December
Artist Ken Saruhashi will dance the Nutcracker on 24 December (matinée), 2 January (matinée)

ENB Nutcracker and Clara

Nutcracker and Clara (c) Patrick Baldwin

The ENB production opens on 11 December and runs until 5 January.

Nutcracker - Sugar Plum Fairy

10 thoughts on “If it’s Christmas it must be the Nutcracker… again

  1. The Royal Ballet production is sold out already?? I saw it last year for the first time, but had one of the cheap seats right round the side so I only saw about a 1/3 of the stage. I was hoping to see the whole of the stage this year. I guess I’ll have to try for returns or a day ticket!

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