Susie Mesure: Nifty footwork takes our dancers to new heights

Share
Related Topics

If it's Christmas, it must be The Nutcracker: Clara and her wooden soldier doll are our constant companions during a season otherwise observed in ever different ways. At English National Ballet, which has danced the work every December for the past 59 years, the latest version of the Hoffmann classic opens on Friday for 32 performances at the Coliseum in London, the company's Christmas home.

There is much riding on the production, choreographed by Wayne Eagling, ENB's artistic director, and, many believe, saviour. Taking the creative helm five years ago when the ENB was financially on its knees, he has already worked wonders, breathing new life into an old repertoire and taking audiences to record levels. Nearly 90,000 bought tickets for its Christmas season last year.

But last week's chill wind is blowing inside the company, too. The ENB will have £500,000 less to spend next year, its budget down by 10 per cent, so there is added impetus behind the new work. This may explain the elevation of the Nutcracker's numerous eye-catching jetés, although the skill of 20-year-old Russian Vadim Muntagirov, ENB's brightest male star, will also help.

Happily, the Fates are on hand. Dance has never been more popular in Britain; audiences are up everywhere. Matthew Bourne, the choreographer who has brought new audiences to dance by reinterpreting old favourites such as Swan Lake and his current revival of Cinderella, regularly sells out at Sadler's Wells. High-profile shows such as the Strictly Come Dancing, which pulls more than 11 million viewers an episode, plus new shows including Sky's Got to Dance, which starts a second series in January, are driving demand. Dance work-outs and the new, Latin-based Zumba have now joined gym staples such as Bodypump, some five million Brits of all ages shaking their booties each week in the name of fitness and fun. And classical ballet troupes have become regulars at music festivals from Bestival to Latitude.

The elite Royal Ballet takes to the mass market stage of London's O2 next June, in pursuit of a different crowd. A vast production of Romeo and Juliet will attract audiences of up to 10,000 a performance, partly by slashing the Covent Garden price of entry. ENB did something similar this summer, dancing its ever popular Swan Lake in the round at the Albert Hall.

Although ENB's prospects are good – 47,000 tickets have already been sold for The Nutcracker – new shows don't come cheap. It will take three years to recoup the ballet's £600,000 budget. But the sky's the limit if Eagling's Edwardian-staged version, the 10th that ENB will have danced since its creation 60 years ago, is a hit. George Balanchine's 1954 Nutcracker is danced to this day in New York.

ENB's phoenix-like revival shows that, with the right leadership, even arts companies can survive big budget squeezes. But it needs audiences to stay loyal, and to be spared from further cuts. The Nutcracker must perform its own Christmas miracle.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£12024: Randstad Education Leeds: Teaching Assistant September 2014 start - te...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's letter: Summer holidays are here... so what to do with the children?

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

The daily catch-up: knitting, why Ed wants to be PM and a colloquium of Indy-pedants

John Rentoul
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn