I discovered this version on YouTube a few years ago. It seems that the BBC periodically films a live performance of this production to air on television at Christmas. The first one I saw was filmed in 2005. I discovered this one last year, filmed in 2009. (I like the 2009 one better than 2005. I think Clara, the Nutcracker, and Drosselmeyer do a better job portraying the characters.) This production for London’s Royal Ballet was first created by Peter Wright in 1984. Then in 2001 he added a new ending to it, which is the version seen here and currently performed. This version has become my new favorite Nutcracker (along with George Balanchine’s). Everything about the production is so beautifully created - choreography, story, costumes, and sets. The attention to detail and the quality of dancing from the entire cast is on an entirely different level. This is another one I would LOVE to see live someday.
In this video Clara is danced by Iohna Loots, the Nutcracker by Ricardo Cervera, and the Sugar Plum Fairy by Miyako Yoshida. The Royal Ballet chooses to cast professional dancers from their company as Clara and the Nutcracker, although they use soloists (who are likely college-age) for these parts, who are lower-ranking in the company than principals. As a result, Clara and the Nutcracker can have very high level dancing requirements and yet they are choreographed to come across believably as teenagers. I like that the Royal Ballet seems to have raised the age of Clara and the Nutcracker for their version instead of trying to have young adult dancers act as children. (In my opinion, if you’re going to use adults then they need to act like adults, or at least teens. If you want child characters, cast children.) There seems to be a sweet, gentle romance that develops between Clara and the Nutcracker, but it’s not overdone and I suppose it would be expected from a couple teens going through the kind of adventure they have in the story. In the 2009 production, Loots and Cervera have great chemistry too, which makes it even better. (Cervera is VERY good-looking too, I might add.)
Another cool thing about Clara and the Nutcracker in this version is that they are fully integrated into the later parts of the ballet. In most versions, after their duet at the end of the battle they are mostly bystanders, watching the rest of ballet take place. Here they dance with the Snowflakes intermittently and participate in several of the Land of Sweets dances as well. Major props to the dancers playing Clara and the Nutcracker for learning all those different dances. Those parts must be hugely demanding. The characters look as if they’re playing in the snow and exploring all the different wonders of the Land of Sweets. It’s very sweet and gives them a lot more interest. This version also gives the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Prince/Cavalier a stronger presence. In the Land of Sweets the two of them appear as equals, as co-rulers. He presented as being just as important to the kingdom as she is, instead of simply being her dance partner.
I absolutely love the ending of this version as well. I won’t give it away. You’ll have to watch it yourself to see. I’ll just say that it ends the story in a way that makes you think it was NOT all a dream. I like to think of The Nutcracker as a fantasy adventure rather than a dream story. Very few ballets choose to end it that way, but I love it when they do. Overall, this production is beautiful in every way. Please watch it. It will seriously make your day 10 times better.
Here’s a link to the 2005 version as well. This one has a nice synopsis at the beginning of each act.