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Tag: Christmas

Ballet classics – The Nutcracker

Ballet classics – The Nutcracker

(Karla Doorbar as Clara; photo: Roy Smiljanic)

Nothing says Christmas more to dancers than The Nutcracker. Companies all over the world look forward to putting on their own production, with it being the highlight of the year. The Nutcracker is to ballet what Jack and the Beanstalk is to pantos – a deep set tradition, with just as much magic and adventure, that many look forward to every year. If you aren’t too familiar with the story, read on and you’ll be a Nutcracker pro in no time!

Premiering in 1892, it was adapted from E.T.A Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lee Ivanov, with a score from the great Pyotr Tchaikovsky (who also composed music for Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake). Like most long standing productions, the details and the story differ slightly from place to place, but here’s the one that is most familiar.

(Karla Doorbar as Clara, Angela Paul as Clara’s Mother and Rory Mackay as Drosselmeyer; photo: Andrew Ross)

The scene is set on Christmas Eve in young girls family home, Clara, where the Christmas tree has been decorated and the children stand in awe of it. As the clock strikes 8pm, Drosselmeyer, Clara’s Godfather, local councilman and magician appears, with gifts for all the children. Clara particularly falls in love with a wooden Nutcracker carved in the shape of a solider. Fritz – Clara’s brother, breaks it, (typical sibling rivalry I’d say) and Clara is heartbroken.

(Rachael Gillespie as Clara curtesy of Northern Ballet)

During the night, Clara goes back downstairs to see the broken Nutcracker again (does she not know that Father Christmas only visits when all children are asleep?!) As she reaches for it, the clock strikes 12 midnight, mice flood the room, the tree begins to grow as does the Nutcracker! Suddenly Clara finds herself in the middle of a battle between gingerbread men soldiers led by the Nutcracker, and the army of mice led by the Mouse King.

(Jonathan Caguioa as the Nutcracker Doll and Yasuo Atsuji as King Rat with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Rats; photo: Andrew Ross)

The mice begin eating away at the gingerbread men (well they are super tasty). As it looks like the Mouse army are winning, Clara throws her slipper at the Mouse King, giving the Nutcracker an opportunity to stab him (always so violent, does it need a disclaimer?) The mice retreat and the Nutcracker transforms into a Prince, who takes Clara through a pine forest towards his kingdom. Magical snowflakes dance all around them

(Jenna Roberts as the Snow Fairy with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper)

Act II sees the pair enter the magical Land of sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy (perhaps this is where Willy Wonka got his inspiration from?) To celebrate the victory and to thank Clara for her help, the Sugar Plum Fairy enlists the help from sweets all over the world, who each perform for the pair, including the famous dance of the Plum Fairy.

(Yaoqian Shang as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Copper)

As the celebrations draw to a close, Clara and the Nutcracker are lead to a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Everyone waves them off on their journey, much like wedding guests to newly wed couples, and this ends the production, although there are multiple alternative endings around.

(Company dancers photo curtesy of Northern Ballet)

With such a magical, enthralling story, enough sweets to send the kids climbing the walls on a sugar high, and a heroine little girls would dream to be, The Nutcracker is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the ballet world and the theatre, and would also make a wonderful family tradition to watch it year after year.

(Image courtesy of The Scottish Ballet company www.scottishballet.co.uk )

Disney must appreciate the magic of Nutcracker, as they are currently producing a live action adaptation – The Nutcracker and the Four Relms, due to be realised November 2018, just in time for the festive season (top marks Disney) which promises to be every bit as magical as the ballet, if not more. Definitely one to put on your calendars for next year! Watch the official trailer here https://www.facebook.com/DisneyUK/videos/654986464672105/

So, the little ones are tucked up in bed, while visions of sugar plums – hopefully not evil mice kings being stabbed to death – dance in their heads, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and supporting this blog, this is my dream coming to life and I’m hugely honoured and grateful to have you all share it with me. There’s only one thing left to say…….

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all goodnight!”

See you in the New Year,

Dance Niche

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Christmas gift list for the dancer who has EVERYTHING!

Christmas gift list for the dancer who has EVERYTHING!

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time for giving. But what do you get for that dancer in your life who already has EVERYTHING?! We’re here to enlighten you with my top most thoughtful dance related buys that will earn you extra brownie points this festive season.

Let’s start with the basics of what every dancer needs……..a decent leo. Now we’re not talking about Leonardo Di Caprio, although he’d most definitely be on ourChristmas list (don’t disappoint usagain Santa) we are of course talking about leotards. A dancers staple item no matter what genre. “But they already have a whole wardrobe of leotards?!” we hear you cry! Well hold your horses and listen up. Find a leotard that’s different from the rest, one that isn’t their standard uniform for class, their basic style or bog standard go to. Do your research. Find one that’s different. Adventurous. One that shows personality, that they can wear for a free class, workshop or that’s sure to make them stand out for all the right reasons in an audition. We love this one from UK based family company Dansez www.dans-ez.com . Super luxurious and soft materials make it really gentle on your skin. The sheer high neck and cap sleeves make it a super flattering style for any shape and the tear drop low back is to die for and will show off all those toned back muscles perfectly. It gives all the Chicago Cell Block Tango feels, and what’s more, you could pair it with skinny jeans or tailored trousers and rock it from the barre to a bar and feel super slinky! Bonus!

Sticking with the dance apparel theme, we’re moving onto dance skirts. Not for everyone, but if the dancer your buying for takes ballet or other lyrical styles, then this one is definitely for you. What’s so special about a dance skirt? One that’s been handmade to your custom specifics that’s what!!! Look no further than Candy and Bagel www.candyandbagel.comNothing will say you’ve put thought into a gift more than something that has been designed specifically for them. Serious brownie points. And what’s more is that it’ll be a one off, ensuring no one else in class will have the same, avoiding that embarrassing moment that every girl wants to avoid. Unless they’re twinning with their dance BFF, in which case that’s totally acceptable. Maybe order 2……….

No dancers wardrobe would be complete without a good old slogan tee. Kelham Print www.kelhamprint.co.ukis the place to go, with a whole section of t-shirts, sweaters and gifts dedicated to dance slogans and puns. You can choose the style, colour and even the type of font, to make sure you really get something suited to your special dancer. These are really ‘en pointe’ right now. (See what I did there?!) Great for warm ups, open classes, hitting the gym to cross train or for a casual day look when they want everyone in the supermarket to know that they’re a dancer. Not that the penché to reach that item on the bottom shelf gave it away at all!

Every dancer needs to stay hydrated, but who wants a boring non-descript water bottle that leaks and dribbles every time you take a gulp?! Not a good look. Try this super cool drinks bottle from up and coming family brand Eden Dancewear www.edendancwear.co.uk

It comes in a choice of vibrant colours and features a tight secure lid with special carry handle. And that’s not even the best bit! It’s got a state of the art mist spray function. So when they get all hot and sweaty in class, they can quickly spritz and refresh themselves ready for the next session! We told you it was super cool!

You definitely wouldn’t want anything to leak on this next item! Again, another bespoke, handmade item, but this time, it’s an actual dance bag! Bakytgul www.bakytgul.comdesign and make custom dance bags with a difference. Gone are the boring standard black or pink colours and plainer than plain fabrics! Instead we are treated to luxurious prints and patterns in an array of colours. And it doesn’t stop there! They are fully lined, but not with any old drab, dull fabric, oh no! Even the linings are carefully selected for their patterns and colours, harmoniously coordinating with the outer fabric. They also are unique in their design with the inner pockets. A lot of thought has gone into coming up with a bag that is not only stylish, but will make it easy for the dancer to locate all the different shoes and fiddly items they need for a quick and swift change, earning them brownie points with their teachers! Winner!

Dance is a world in which you never stop learning. And boy is there so much to learn. Help your dancer out by buying them a book. It could be a book on technique advice, an autobiography by their favourite dancer, or a picture book full of awe inspiring photos of the professionals, because who doesn’t love to stare at the pros doing what they do best?! Oberon Books www.oberonbooks.com are an independent publishers specialising in the arts. So whether it’s ballet, dance icons, technique based literature or something more theatrical altogether, they will have what you’re looking for.

Another lovely idea would be to buy something to put up on their wall. EVERY hardcore dancer has at least one dance poster up on their wall, heck some are even lucky enough to have their very own dance corner in their bedroom! And what dance zone would be complete without some beautiful pictures and art work to admire, inspire and be your focus point when practicing pirouettes!! We particularly love the artwork of ALICIA HEANEY over on www.aliciaannart.com . She perfectly captures the effortless beauty and delicateness of dancers, and produces some wonderful pieces that anyone would be proud to display on their walls. And just how lucky would your dancer be to own a piece of original art work?! Something that could be passed down to future generations of dancers, a family heir loom!

Now if we haven’t yet inspired you with our list so far, we’ve saved one for last that would guarantee to put a smile on your dancers face! We would recommend doing your research of what’s in your area, and purchasing a voucher for a dedicated dance shop. If the dancer you are buying for is particularly fussy, they can browse through whole sections of shoes, leos, warm ups, accessories, brands, and pick something that they both really love and need. It ticks all the boxes! We have personal experience of THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT in Liverpool city centre www.thatsentertainmentdancewear.com . The staff are most welcoming and friendly. Their knowledge and expertise on different dance genres and dance wear brands are highly commendable, and they will openly share this knowledge with you to help you choose the right items for you, without being pushy or condescending. You will leave feeling like you’ve had an experience they treat you so well. And with their newly updated website, you can now purchase almost everything they sell in their shop, online. Apart from pointe shoes, which you all know need a fitting appointment.

So there we have it, our little gift to you to help you with your little gift to your dancer! Do you have a favourite go to gift idea for dance fanatics? Have you purchased anything from the above retailers? Do let us know, we’d love to hear!

Love

Dance Niche

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