Birmingham Royal Ballet’s world-renowned production of The Nutcracker has returned to the Birmingham Hippodrome. This famously festive ballet is a Christmas must-see with its gigantic sets, lavish costumes, full orchestra and 60 graceful dancers, it is the perfect treat for you and your loved ones.
How much do you know about The Nutcracker and Birmingham Royal Ballet? We’ve rounded up 10 fascinating facts about the company and the show which you can impress your pals with over the festive period.
1. Sir Peter Wright’s version of The Nutcracker staged in Birmingham each year is considered to be one of the best in the world. It was given as a gift to the city of Birmingham from Sir Peter when the company moved there back in 1990.
2. The ballet dancers spend up to 8 hours a day in formal training and rehearsing and that’s not counting the days they have a 3-hour performance. Their intensive training means that they can carry out amazing physical feats during performances. In The Nutcracker you’ll see the body being stretched to the limit; you’ll witness dancers jumping meters from the ground from a standing start. As well as seeing dancers lifting each other entirely above their heads, or performing perfect pirouettes on the spot.
3. The Nutcracker is a massive show to build! The actual ‘get-in’ and ‘fit-up’ in the Hippodrome takes approximately three whole days, with another two days usually being required for technical and stage rehearsals.
4. The 500th performance took place last year on Tuesday 29 November 2016 and by the end of its 2016 season, this production had been performed a total of 519 times – 454 of those times at Birmingham Hippodrome.
5. The production has a flying goose that transports the heroine Clara to a magical land – it travels 20 metres across the stage at every performance with a ballerina sat in it. This means that the goose has flown over 6.4 miles at Birmingham Hippodrome since 1990.
6. Talking of amazing props, 75kg of flame retardant artificial snow is used in The Nutcracker. It is imported to Birmingham from a specialist company in New York.
7. The Nutcracker features a huge transformation scene, where a Christmas tree grows from 4m to 15m and a fireplace grows to fill half of the stage. A crew of around 50 people work backstage to help make this metamorphosis occur.
8. Since The Nutcracker’s first performance back in 1990, dancers playing the role of ‘snowflakes’ in the show have gone through over 720 cans of silver-sparkle body paint.
9. The most infamous costume for a dancer to wear in the show is that of King Rat, which weighs the same as 30 cans of soup, 10 bags of sugar or 2 and a bit average sized cats- at whole 10KG. It weighs so much that the dancers can’t actually dance in it!
10. The company might spend 18 weeks a year touring the UK and across the world but their Christmas show remains an annual Birmingham Christmas tradition – since the year 2000 over 420,000 people have flocked to Birmingham to watch The Nutcracker!