Savannah Ireland and Mahlatse Sachane in The Nutcracker. Pictures: Lauge Sorensen
This October, ballet lovers will be treated to an early appetiser for the festive season when Joburg Ballet brings to the stage a brand new production of the evergreen and beloved The Nutcracker ballet.

The production promises to enthral audiences with the innovative choreography of former Joburg Ballet senior principal dancer Angela Malan, which celebrates the timeless story of The Nutcracker in true classical style.

The Nutcracker will transport audiences to a fairy tale world as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince dance through snowflakes, journey to the kingdom of sweets, encounter waltzing flowers and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.

With exquisite dancing, sumptuous sets and Tchaikovsky’s captivating music played live by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, The Nutcracker promises to be an unforgettable treat for children and adults alike.

“I want this production to showcase all the wonder and magic of The Nutcracker, while at the same time capturing the timelessness of the great classical ballet tradition,” Malan said. “I’m creating a sparkling new version for Joburg Ballet while remaining faithful to the original 19th century classic.”

Beautiful new sets and lighting by designer Wilhelm Disbergen will bring this magical world to life on stage, while conductor Eddie Clayton and the full Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra will conjure Tchaikovsky’s shimmering score. The JPO is generously sponsored for the season by The Michel Tesson Trust.

“I’m really looking forward to be working with both South Africa’s premier ballet company and the finest orchestra in the country,” Clayton said. “This will be my first time conducting Tchaikovsky’s famous music and it promises to be a glorious and joyous production at Joburg Theatre.”

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from ETA Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by way of Alexandre Dumas’ adapted story The Nutcracker. It premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg in 1892.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. The New York City Ballet gave its first annual performance of George Balanchine’s staging of The Nutcracker in 1954. The complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since and is now performed by most companies, primarily during the Christmas season. It is reported that major American companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

.snow pdd rehearsal with @savann_ireland first classical pdd😊😊😊😊😊

A post shared by Mahlatse Sachane (@mahlatsesachane) on

In recent years, revisionist productions, including those by Mark Morris, Matthew Bourne, and Mikhail Chemiakin, have appeared. These have departed radically from the 1892 libretto, while Maurice Bejart’s version completely discards the original plot and characters.

Local audiences, however, can look forward to the magic of Dumas’ authentic story, with all its fantastic frills, embodied in the spectacle of glorious dance.

Joburg Ballet offers a range of affordable ticket options for The Nutcracker, including half price on opening night and discounts for pensioners and groups.

The production runs from October 5 to 14 in the Joburg Theatre. Bookings can be made at Joburg Theatre Box Office at 0861 670 670, www.joburgtheatre.com or www.webtickets.co.za