The Nutcracker

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 December, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong Ballet

HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre

Tomorrow-Sat, Dec 24-Dec 27, 7.30pm, also Sat-Dec 21, Dec 25-26, 2.30pm

Like the centrepiece of this production, the magical Christmas tree, the annual Hong Kong Ballet blockbuster The Nutcracker has grown over the past decade and its 12th edition promises to be the most spectacular yet.

Choreographer Stephen Jefferies says he tries to improve the production every year. Given the company's busy schedule, there is little time to revise sections. However, he tries to do some tweaking to raise the artistic bar and better showcase the dancers, especially now that the standard of dancing is much higher.

'Every year, I try to change to suit those demands,' says the former artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet.

Derived from Alexandre Dumas' adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nussknacker und Mausekonig (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King), The Nutcracker is a ballet about a girl who is given an enchanted Nutcracker doll for Christmas.

The Nutcracker is the Hong Kong Ballet's longest running annual offering. Playing Clara in the varying casts will be Faye Leung, Jin Yao, Kyoko Tomimura, Chantel Elizabeth Roulston, and Camilla Vergotis. The Nutcracker Prince will be played by Zhang Yao, Huang Zhen, William Lin, Brett Simon, Kenji Hidaka and Kostyantyn Keshyshev.

Jefferies says that his version was always intended to be for the whole family.

'I've noticed that in other productions, the father gets dragged along ... and is bored out of his mind while the young kids are having a ball,' he says. 'I tried for a family production where everybody gets something out of it,' he says.

This results in different interpretations of the ballet. 'Some read very dark movements and feelings in the production whereas an eight-year-old would just see the glitter and the snow and the Christmas tree.'

At other times, though, there is no mistaking Jefferies' intention. 'For the fathers and the granddads there is some slightly erotic dancing to keep them awake!'

Jefferies puts himself in the audience's position. 'I have the attention span of a gnat! And when I watch productions, I don't want to be bored for one second,' he says, laughing. 'The worst thing in the world for me is to see people fidgeting and waiting for the exit. I want them to stay and really enjoy it. And the way I've come up with an answer to that is to have a very smooth, flowing, fast-paced production where things change all the time.'

Tickets: HK$120-HK$1,000. Inquiries: 2105 9724