Nutcracker at English National Ballet

Alejandro Virelles and Alina Cojocaru

ENB’s Nutcracker season is drawing to a close, with the final performances scheduled for this Sunday, 4 January. Last month, we dropped by the company’s headquarters to interview dancers James Streeter, Sarah Kundi, Max Westwell and Alina Cojocaru for the ENB Advent Calendar series. We collected below some of their thoughts on the festive season at ENB:

I’m going to say the Mouse King… it is great fun to do. You get to be someone else, someone different. And I get to do sounds and pull faces under the mask, that no one ever knows about. When you put on a costume and a mask like that, you transform into someone else and for me that is great. The Mouse King is also the best character to watch, but I know I am biased!

As for a favorite scene, I’d probably say the “snowflakes scene”, it is so nice. The girls, and the lines, the colours and the lighting are great. The music really says Christmas. In fact, not just the “snow” scene but from when you leave “the battle”, and that transition where it all completely changes: you forget the battle and carry out through the “snow”. James Streeter

ENB has a beautiful production, and I really enjoy it, especially the snow scene, with all the jetés and jumps, and the Waltz of the Flowers, where there’s some really fun partnering going on. Plus, the Arabian dance because you just get a moment to get out of the pointes and have some nice flat shoes on for a bit. Sarah Kundi

On favourite Nutcracker moments. Read full interview with James and Sarah here.

Getting to do Prince because it was such a stepping stone. It’s the big moment. As a kid, I always enjoyed watching Thomas Edur in the role, and he’s one of the reasons I came to ENB. He was still here when I joined. So, to be able to dance it now is amazing. I feel like if I had to retire now, I’d be happy because I got to the top of the repertory. I have been edging towards it for years and it had always eluded me. So for me, it sums up the year. Max Westwell

On reasons to be thankful. Read full interview with Max here.

We have such great repertory coming up! We have now started rehearsals on the Modern Masters bill. It is going to be the best of Forsythe, the best of Neumeier and the best of Kylián. It doesn’t get any better than this, so that is very exciting for me and, I’m sure, for everyone in the company. And there are a couple of international tours that are also very exciting and new. It is important for people to see the company, it hasn’t been seen much overseas and it has such wonderful dancers. Of course, it is a lot of work to put together these tours, but I think it is our time, to go out there and show what we have to offer. It is very exciting.

So that is what I wish for me and for the company: to go out and perform in works we haven’t done before and enjoy them. I never sit down and just go ‘I wish I would do that ballet’ and I was lucky that many things came my way, that I was able to give them my attention, so I am quite happy to work with these choreographers and see their way of working. As an artist, that is what makes you grow and develop. Alina Cojocaru

On what’s in store for 2015. Read full interview with Alina here.

Meanwhile, Alice Pennefather was at the general rehearsal earlier this season, and photographed Alina, new principal Alejandro Virelles and the whole company in action:

All Photos: © Alice Pennefather

We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).

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