The Nutcracker

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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Nutcracker! For me, Tchaikovsky´s ballet is magical and it´s the perfect piece to feature in our Christmas episode. We spent the day with the Berlin State Ballet and watched their final rehearsals for this year´s performances. My mother is a ballet critic so I was brought up in and around the dance world. I also spent 10 years in the Berlin State Opera orchestra, so have played the Nutcracker many times. This music is pure Christmas for me.

The studio rehearsal was very lively with excited children everywhere and props flying around –dolls, mouse costumes, toy trumpets, all sorts of things. It must be fantastic to dance these roles as a child, the joy was very evident and I enjoyed talking to Frieda, who was dancing the role of the young Clara. A real dream come true for her. We were allowed to watch the private rehearsal of the grown up Clara and her Nutcracker prince, danced by principal dancers Krasina Pavlova and Mikhail Kaniskin. It was beautiful to see Krasina soaring through the air, she made it look so easy! Thanks to them both for taking the time to talk to me, and especially Mikhail who put his Nutcracker costume back on for the cameras, even though it was tropical in that rehearsal room! I also very much enjoyed talking to the legendary choreographers Vasily Medvedev and Yuri Burlaka, and thanks to my mum who did the Russian translation.

The dress rehearsal in the main auditorium of the Deutsche Oper was a bit chaotic, as all good dress rehearsals tend to be…a good omen that everything will be all right on the night. At the last moment, I was allowed to film backstage in the wings with Chris (our Sarah´s Music cameraman) and Manuel (sound). This was wonderful as there was so much going on, dancers stretching and warming up, mice running loose (in costume, don’t worry!) Chris almost got knocked over by a giant piece of cheese and I forgot to warn Manuel about the very loud cannon at the beginning of the battle scene…his headphones almost blew up. Sorry Manuel!

I hope you enjoy this episode and, if you can, do go and see the Nutcracker live somewhere near you. It´s a magical treat for Christmas. Thanks to you all for watching our programme and being Sarah´s Music supporters, it means a lot to us! Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year!