The Royal Ballet | The Nutcracker Live Cinema Screening this week

Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet, Photo : Johan Persson

The Royal Ballet | The Nutcracker Live Cinema Screening

ballet dancer in the Nutcracker
Photograph : Johan Persson

At the time of writing this, every performance of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker is sold out. BUT. This Thursday, December 13th, The Royal Ballet will be screening The Nutcracker ballet LIVE into cinemas worldwide. You can find your nearest participating cinema by using the search function and clicking on this link.

I recently featured a rehearsal video from The Royal Ballet showcasing one of their dancers who has a debut in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy this season – Fumi Kaneko – in rehearsal with Nehemiah Kish.

nutcracker casting royal ballet

Magic, Snow & Glitter

Who will you see on Thursday ? Roberta Marquez as the Sugar Plum Fairy & Steven McRae (who recently took a ballet masterclass) as The Prince. Gary Avis brings the magic of Drosselmeyer.

There is only one Nutcracker – with all due respect to the other dancers who are cast in the role – and tonight you get to see him : Ricardo Cervera. His Clara is Meaghan Grace Hinkis and you’ll be able to watch them battle the Mouse King (David Pickering) and journey to the Land of Snow, where you’ll be mesmerised by the dancing snowflakes. The Sugar Garden of the Palace in the Kingdom of Sweets is a sight to behold, and there you’ll find the wonderful Laura Morera with her exquisite arching back as the Rose Fairy in her gorgeous tutu.

Watch out too for Fernando Montano in the Chinese dance, Bennet Gartside, Alastair Campbell, Valeri Hristov and Johannes Stepanek as the Rose Fairy’s Escorts, along with Yuhui Choe as one of the Leading Flowers.

nutcracker casting royal ballet

The screening is LIVE and lasts 2 hours and 10 minutes with one interval. Be there for 7.15pm and you’ll be waltzing out into the night! Before, during or after the performance you can tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #ROHnutcracker

Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet, Photo : Johan Persson
Photo : Johan Persson

Watch the screen trailer for The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Watch what happens behind the scenes to make The Nutcracker magic

Behind the scenes with the Corps de Ballet

dancers from the corps de ballet sit on their legs in Swan Lake tutus

Behind the scenes with the Corps de Ballet

dancers from the corps de ballet sit on their legs in Swan Lake tutus
Corella Ballet in Swan Lake Photograph : Rosalie O’Connor

The magnificent Corps de Ballet are the body – literally translated – of any ballet company around the world. Without them, Swan Lake would be lost, La Bayadere would be missing it’s Shades and The Nutcracker would be missing a lot of dancing.

I wanted to highlight a film that showcases, in the best way possible, the life of a Corps de Ballet dancer. In this case, the company is The Royal Ballet, but it could be any company.  What makes this film so incredibly great is that Sabina Westcombe, a Corps dancer herself, talks about the highs of being in the company and of dancing for a living, but that is intercut with footage from rehearsals and performance showing Westcombe after she’s performed 4 marathon Acts of Swan Lake; showing quite a different side to the life of a dancer.

And it’s worth remembering that the Royal Ballet Corps can dance 24 Acts of Swan Lake in a matter of days!

The Life of a Corps de Ballet dancer at The Royal Ballet during a run of Swan Lake :

The Royal Ballet Yearbook 2011/12

The Royal Ballet Yearbook 2011/12 reviewed

Royal Ballet Yearbook 2011/12 (Paperback)

List Price: £17.50 GBP
New From: £11.46 GBP In Stock
Used from: £10.73 GBP In Stock

There’s no doubt that this is an attractive book; it’s unusual size and striking photograph on the cover (Lauren Cuthbertson and Sergei Polunin from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) will draw you in.  What happens when you delve inside ?

The annual Yearbook is a curious mix of looking back over the past year and a tentative glance towards the new season, which always puzzles me.  If it’s the 2011/12 year we are looking at, i.e. the new season, why is a large part of the book devoted to nostalgia (note the section on the O2 performances ‘a triumph of nerve and talent’)?

The ‘Welcome from Monica Mason’ highlights what is to come in her ‘very personal’ last season as director including her determination to revive The Prince of the Pagodas after 16 years away from the stage.  But Mason also has a penchant for looking back at the highlights of the previous season. There follow 38 pages devoted to it, in text and photographs, 6 pages where Mason is interviewed and mostly looks back over her career as a dancer and director of The Royal Ballet, plus 6 pages on the ‘making of Alice.’ We’ve been there and drunk from the tea cup and we’re more than half way through the book before the 2011/12 season preview appears in photographs.

Strangely, given that the company hasn’t issued its annual leavers/joiners/promotions i.e. company news, here you’ll find some detail – with promotions going to First Artists Emma Maguire and Akane Takada (to Soloist) and Artists James Hay, Dawid Trzensimiech, Sabina Westcombe and Valentino Zucchetti to First Artist.  It’s already well known that Alexander Campbell has joined the company as a Soloist from Birmingham Royal Ballet, and that Claudia Dean and Tomáš Mock join as Artists from The Royal Ballet School (fellow RBS graduate Francesca Hayward joined the company last season as did Fumi Keneko from Japan), as does Meaghan Grace Hinkis from ABT 11.  Sung Woo Han and Patricia Zhou join the company from the Prix de Lausanne for this new season (they are no longer called apprentices) and Jonathan Howells becomes Ballet Master. Vanessa Fenton, Victoria Hewitt, Bethany Keating and James Butcher left the company during the 2010/11 season.

The late Zoë Dominic, a photographer who snapped almost every Royal Ballet production is given 4 pages where her black and white images are displayed, some of which have never been published before (Ashton rehearsing Svetlana Beriosova for Les Noces in 1966, Ashton rehearsing dancers for Persephone in 1961, De Valois in 1961 with Gerd Larssen, Ashton & de Valois on tour to the former USSR again in 1961, Rudolf Nureyev rehearsing his production of The Nutcracker in 1968 with (among others) Merle Park, Patricia Linton and Geraldine Morris), Anthony Dowell rehearsing in 1974 in Barons Court and Margot Fonteyn rehearsing Le Spectre de la rose in 1961.

Then we are plunged backwards again – to the 1930’s, as we work through the company chronology over 6 pages, which is followed by the usual posed shots of the staff & dancers of the company.  The last couple of pages advertise company performances on DVD, books, and finally a mention to Freddy, official sponsor and supplier of dance and sport fashion wear to the company.

The Yearbook is billed as ‘the perfect companion to The Royal Ballet’ but I can’t help thinking that you’ll find more substantive information from the programmes published throughout the year.  True, the photographs are sumptuous throughout and the pages thick and glossy, but still it feels insubstantial – really, you’re through the book in 15 minutes.

If you’re a fan of the company then it serves as a record of (mostly) the previous season and if you’ve spent many a happy hour at the Royal Opera House then you too may wish to reminisce on time well spent.