by Jessica Wilson
There’s an extremely Christmassy privilege heading to the UK on 22nd December, in the form of New York City Ballet’s brand new production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, with tickets priced at just ten pounds. This multi-million dollar production includes a forty foot Christmas tree which weighs a staggering one tonne, seventy ballet dancers, fifty children from the School of American Ballet – the official school of NYCB – and a sixty-two piece orchestra. It is ultimately described by the New York Post as “the Christmas show of all Christmas shows”.
NYCB has an unparalleled active repertory of more than 150 works, many of which are considered modern masterpieces. The Company was established in 1948 by choreographer Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, joined by Jerome Robbins in 1949 as associate artistic director. Now under the artistic direction of Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, the company performs an impressive annual 21-week season in New York, the longest home season of any dance company in the world.
The production’s defining feature is its vast scale, described as a ‘virtually live performance’ to be screened in cinemas all over the UK. This will ultimately provide mass audiences with the chance to view such an iconic and prestigious work by Balanchine, who is generally argued to be the father of modern ballet. This great accessibility is proved unhindered by the extremely limited run, due to the fact it is the ‘golden ticket’ of ballets for all dance lovers, available nationally.
Too often Balanchine’s work is described at length throughout literature, with the ability to view his work in a modern context sometimes denied. The screenings of the ballet clearly indicate the importance of preserving the history of dance, not only to continually appreciate and enjoy it, but also for today’s dance generations to build the future of the sector. Balanchine’s inspirational work will become further influential to dance practitioners of all ages, techniques and standards, due to the universal subject nature of the production.
The live performance will be filmed at Lincoln Center in New York on 13th December, which will be beamed over to the UK using fibre optic satellite technology. The film will be edited and produced then distributed by Omniverse Vision, following the phenomenal success of the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Concert and Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert in more than 1500 cinemas. The production will be featured in around forty screens in selected cinemas including Odeon, Showcase, Vue and other independents, giving the UK an immeasurable festive treat.
It is arguable that this truly is the ultimate production of The Nutcracker; with unbelievable value for money, the chance for UK ballet and Balanchine fans to witness a hugely talented company perform a classic Christmas work during the holiday season is priceless. The New York Times calls the New York City Ballet’s production of this festive ballet “the unique, original and inimitable Nutcracker”, with Tchaikovsky’s incomparable score, hundreds of dazzling costumes… and a million watts of illuminated excitement.
Katherine E. Brown, NYCB’s executive director, said “we are thrilled to bring this beloved holiday production to what we hope will be the first of many opportunities to present New York City Ballet’s extraordinary repertory in movie theatres throughout the world”, adding great anticipation to the company’s ‘visit’ to the UK. Elizabeth Scott, Lincoln Center’s Chief Media and Digital Officer, added “Lincoln Center pioneered the use of broadcast media to bring the magic of live performance into households throughout the US. We’re pleased to take this next step and give movie goers across the globe access to this classic performance, emblematic of the superb offerings on our renowned stages.”
The award-winning Lincoln Center provides millions of American television viewers with live performances every year, having collaborated with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to launch its newest distribution channel, Lincoln Center Digital Productions. Lincoln Center’s sixteen-acre campus houses eleven prestigious cultural organizations, additionally the Juilliard School, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the School of American Ballet.
NYCB is widely acknowledged for its enduring contributions to dance, committed to promoting creative excellence and nurturing a new generation of dancers and choreographers. Through their anticipated cinematic connection with the UK, audiences will become privy to immense talent, both in terms of choreography and performance. For many, this opportunity will be the first of its kind, with the hope that there will be many similar ones to take advantage of, and develop dance further both internationally and inter-culturally.
Tickets are now on sale – please visit www.cinestage.co.uk
Intern Jessica Wilson is a final year student at Middlesex university in London, studying Dance Performance. Jessica reviews London shows for the Society of London Theatre’s initiative for 16-25 year olds, TheatreFix, writes features for A Younger Theatre and blogs for Cloud Dance Festival, with additional press responsibilities. She has completed many marketing internships, the most recent at English National Ballet.
Jessica has also previously interned for SOLT, East London Dance and the ISTD dance examination board. Jessica is a National Youth Dance Ambassador for Youth Dance England, focusing on young people’s access to dance. She is extremely passionate about opportunites for young people enabling them to succeed and hopes to continue advocating this in the future through a variety of means.