Christmas at The Coliseum, London

Christmas 2007 sees English National Ballet break with tradition by opening its Coliseum season with Michael Corder’s glittering new production of The Snow Queen (11 – 16 December). The Company’s traditional showing of family favourite The Nutcracker follows with Christopher Hampson’s flamboyant production returning for its seventh consecutive season (19 December – 6 January). The season finale brings Derek Deane’s proscenium arch production of Swan Lake back to London for the first time since 2001 (8 – 19 January 2008).

Another record-breaking season has prompted English National Ballet to once again return to the Coliseum with three ballets. The 2006/2007 Christmas season broke all previous box office records with performances of The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland and Giselle selling 85,818 tickets over a six week season at the London Coliseum.

The Snow Queen is Michael Corder’s third new work for English National Ballet; his other works for the Company are his acclaimed production of Cinderella premiered in 1996, and the recently performed Melody on the Move created in 2003. The Snow Queen is the first new full length ballet produced by English National Ballet in over 10 years.

The music for The Snow Queen is arranged by Julian Philips from Prokofiev’s ballet The Stone Flower and other Prokofiev works. Julian’s original works include Strange Seas, commissioned by the Britten Sinfonia and later performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Out of Light commissioned by BBC Proms and premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 2001.

The production is designed by Mark Bailey whose previous collaborations with Corder include Melody on the Move in 2003. Mark’s recent projects include Hamlet for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and An Ideal Husband for Theatr Clwyd.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen is a touching, gothic fairy tale which will be lavishly retold by English National Ballet. The Snow Queen tells the story of young friends, Kay and Gerda. Kay catches slivers of the Snow Queen’s shattered magic mirror in his eye and in his heart, and his character begins to change. As Kay is spirited away to the Snow Queen’s palace, eternal winter descends on the village. Gerda searches the world over to find her friend.

This fantastic journey finally takes her to the Snow Queen’s Palace which is inhabited by her magical court of wolves, white foxes, ice maidens and sprites. Gerda’s love for Kay releases him from the spell, the slivers of mirror fall from his eye and heart and the Snow Queen’s curse of eternal winter is broken.

Andersen’s fairy tales have inspired plays, ballets, films and many works of art. The Snow Queen was first published in 1844 and has since been translated into more than 80 languages.

Continuing the season in traditional style, English National Ballet presents The Nutcracker, choreographed by Christopher Hampson, and designed by Gerald Scarfe. Hampson/Scarfe’s ballet is colourful and vibrant and offers an eccentric retelling of this classic Christmas ballet.

Clara, her Nutcracker doll and the magician, Drosselmeyer, take us on adventures in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets. Clara battles with a Mouse King, flies on an origami bird and falls in love with a handsome Prince. English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is the ideal Christmas treat for all the family, and has proved hugely popular with audiences since its premiere in 2002.

To round off the season, the Company presents Derek Deane’s Swan Lake. Arguably the most popular ballet ever created, Swan Lake tells the story of Prince Siegfried’s powerful love for the Swan Queen, Odette, and their battle against the evil magician, Rothbart.

Derek Deane’s traditional production brings the romance and high drama of the grand Russian ballet tradition alive. Swan Lake is set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, which features some of the most beautiful music in the classical ballet repertoire.

This Swan Lake was originally produced for English National Ballet by Derek Deane in 2000, based on a reworking of his 1997 in the round version. The in the round production has recently enjoyed full houses at the Royal Albert Hall and has delighted audiences of over 400,000 in the ten years since its premiere.

Excerpts from this production were featured in Concert for Diana in Wembley Stadium on 1 July. The proscenium arch production was last seen in London in 2001.

English National Ballet will be performing at the Coliseum with its full Company of 64 dancers and full orchestra. The international line up of dancers includes popular husband and wife partnership Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur, as well Daria Klimentová and Dmitri Gruzdyev; Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas; Erina Takahashi and César Morales, and Fernanda Oliveira. For the latest national and international touring information and to book online, visit English National Ballet’s website at www.Ballet.org.uk.

London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES, England. Ticket prices: £10 – £60

The Snow Queen > 11 – 15 December 7.30pm, 12, 15 December 2.30pm, 13 December 2pm (Schools), 16 December 3pm, (Pre performance talks on 13 December 6pm, 16 December 1.30pm)

The Nutcracker > 19 – 22, 26 – 29 December, 2 – 5 January 7.30pm, 19 – 22, 26 – 29 December, 2, 3, 5 January 2.30pm, 23, 30 December, 6 January 3pm, (Pre performance talks on 20, 29 December, 2 January 6pm)

Swan Lake > 8 – 12, 15 – 19 January 7.30pm, 10, 12, 16, 19 January 2.30pm, 13 January 3pm, (Pre performance talk on 17 January 6pm)

For further information, visit www.Ballet.org.uk

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