Shiori Kase as Clara Photo: (C) Jason Bell

As Christmas approaches, so do the fantastic tales, including the one of “ The Nutcracker“. The story by E.T.A. Hoffman „The Nutcracker and the Mouse King“ from 1816 is about Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll with which she enters a magical world. It all takes place in Edwardian London on a sparkling Christmas Eve and while she battles with the Mouse King, she meets a handsome stranger, who came in her defense. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins. . Almost 80 years later, in 1892, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created one of his now most famous compositions, where especially the pieces featured in the suite gained much attention worldwide. While the original production by choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanow was not very successful, ever since the 1950s “The Nutcracker” has become a Christmas tradition in many countries and is performed worldwide.

For the 12th time, the English National Ballet produces their version by “The Nutcracker”, which is performed in the London Coliseum from Wednesday, 16 December to Sunday, 10 January 2016. In 2014, over 70,000 visitors came to see the ENB’s production and this year choreographer Wayne Eagling put another great show together. Tchaikovsky’s scores featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers, are played by the English National Ballet Philarmonic.

The design by Peter Farmer is impressive and especially the snow projection makes the visitors gaze in awe at the stage. The costumes were made by Costume Supervisor Cathy Hill and with crystals provided by Swarovski Elements, this magical ballet shined even more. There are over 400 elements sewn onto the Sugar Plum Fairy costume, whose top skirt takes an entire day to make. The fabrics come mainly from Germany, Amerca, India, France and England, but really are sought worldwide.

English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson The party scene during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

English National Ballet's Nutcracker Photo: (C) Laurent Liotardo Fabian Reimair (centre) performs magic tricks as Drosselmeyer during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Over the last few years, The ENB created many different versions of „The Nutcracker“ with some having a more modern twist, but since 2010 and because of Farmers influence, the ballet conjures up the magic of a traditional snowy Christmas.

This year, Nutcracker sees debuts from Cesar Corrales, Isaac Hernandez, and guest artist Osiel Gouneo in the role of the Nephew, and Emilio Pavan, and Jinhao Zhang in the role of Nutcracker. Further Principal casting sees Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo, Shiroi Kase, Laurretta Summerscales, and Erina Takahashi in the role of Clara, and Yonah Acosta, Junor Souza, Max Westwell, and James Forbat in the role of the Nephew.

Snowflakes dance during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson Madison Keesler as a Snowflake Photo: (C) Laurent Liotardo

In the first act, Clara has been gifted her magical Nutcracker and celebrates Christmas surrounded by her family and friends before having to fight the rats and mice. The young ballet dancers are students from the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and from the English National Ballet School. In the second act, Clara travels the world in her hot air balloon, right by the Nutcracker’s side. They explore Spain, the orient, China and Russia.

All in all, the English National Ballet created a traditional depiction of “The Nutcracker” once more and is definitely a ballet worth seeing! A magical performance that lets you drift away and get into the Christmas spirit right away.

Where? London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4ES
Dates? Wednesday 16 December 2015 – Sunday 10 January 2016
Ticket Prices? £14 – £79
Performances? Evening performances at 7.30pm Matinee performances at 2.30pm
Christmas Eve at 1pm Boxing Day at 5pm
Website: www.ballet.org.uk/nutcracker
Box office: 020 7845 9300

Ksenia Ovsyanick & Fernando Bufalá performs during English National Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London on December 10, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson  Shiori Kase as Clara and Cesar Corrales as Nephew with James Streeter as the Mouse King Photo: (C) Laurent Liotardo