‘The Nutcracker’ located in the desert
The winter theme has been replaced by sun, sand and baobab trees.
Instead, the role of the Sugar Plum fairy is played by a sangoma or traditional healer, and the famous “Russian dance” is performed in overalls and rubber boots.
“The Nutcracker Reimagined” is accompanied by original music and script by famous French ballet dancer and choreographer Marius Petipa – on Christmas Eve.
And a little girl named Clara is having a magical adventure.
But without snowflakes or tutus, Clara is led by a sangoma through the Kalahari Desert, where the cave paintings come to life. And a baobab is all there is for a Christmas tree.
âSo the idea was to create a South African Nutcracker that would tell the normal ‘Nutcracker’ story, but in a South African setting and in summer. ”
âThe Nutcracker Reimaginedâ was created in 2008 by the precursor of Joburg Ballet.
It is presented again this year – from September 19 to 27.
“This one is very, very different,” says dancer Keke Chele, who plays the butler.
âLike a traditional Christmas party when that uncle you haven’t seen for a long time comes to visit us, these are the kind of characters we explore and it’s a lot of fun,â he said.
It takes place in a magical world of South African sangomas, baobab trees and gumboot dancing an invention of the black miners and wouldn’t be complete without the koeksisters, a traditional local treat.
The choreography is based on classical and contemporary inspiration and is at times strikingly pictorial.
But the 2014 version of the ballet adds circus performances, with some characters traveling through a magical world suspended from ropes.
Artists find some of these aerial figures a little demanding.
âThe hardest part for me is probably the new circus thing we’re doing, it’s pretty tough,â says Angela Revie, who plays Clara.
Kitty Phetla, soloist at Joburg Ballet, who plays the role of the Sugar Plum fairy – who in this case is a sangoma – finds the latest version of the dance “more dangerous”.
âIt’s more sculpted than classic, it’s exciting, it’s fast,â she says.
Choreographer Adele Blank admits the adaptation didn’t go smoothly initially, as many dancers are not from South Africa and have performed in the classic “The Nutcracker” before.
âSo they look at us like we’ve lost the plot,â Blank said.
For several years, the Joburg Ballet – previously known as Mzansi Productions and South African Ballet Theater – attempted to rebrand itself and go beyond its predominantly white audience.
âWe are trying to keep the existing audience, but to develop a whole new South African audience, especially a young, black and exciting audience,â Badenhorst said. This performance “is one of the ways we are trying to achieve it.”
The first production of “The Nutcracker” took place at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892.