The best shows to see this Christmas

Country Life's dance critic reveals the best shows to see this Christmas.

If you plan carefully, in December you could enjoy Tchaikovsky’s charming fantasy The Nutcracker in Austria, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, and in Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. The holiday trend George Balanchine launched in 1954 with his New York City Ballet production, which that company still dances and sells out for five solid weeks, has circled the globe, eventually catching on here too. This year Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet are performing their colorful versions of The Nutcracker by Peter Wright and Wayne Eagling respectively. Scottish Ballet has revived Peter Darrell’s traditional production, created in 1973 when the choreographer led the company, and the Vienna Festival Ballet and Moscow City Ballet are touring their stagings throughout England.

As a contrast to snow and sweets, The Royal Ballet has brought back Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote, alternating them in repertory, while Northern Ballet has settled on David Nixon’s Peter Pan, which no other troupe performs here.

For the hip-hop company ZooNation, Kate Prince has imagined Lewis Carroll’s characters in an original adventure, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, that involves audience participation. Children who love more familiar works can return to Will Tuckett’s ebullient The Wind in the Willows or to Slava’s Snowshow, which concludes its 20th anniversary national tour this month when the gentle clowns reach London.

Drawing on Hans Christian Anderson’s magical tales, Arthur Pita has transformed The Little Match Girl into a new dance-theatre piece with songs and a happy ending, and Daphna Attias has staged The Tin Soldier for the Peut-être Theatre, mixing dance and live music in a production devised for youngsters. Teenagers and adults might prefer Matthew Bourne’s stylish retelling of Edward Scissorhands, a bittersweet romance that has toured the world since its 2005 première. Whatever your preference or age, there’s plenty of choice.

The Nutcracker: Birmingham Royal Ballet to 13 December,; English National Ballet, 11 December to 4 January.; Scottish Ballet, 13 December to 14 February.; Vienna Festival Ballet to 21 December,; Moscow City Ballet, in repertory to March 28,

Don Quixote to 22 January and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to 16 January.

Peter Pan to 20 December.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Linbury Studio Theatre to 3 January.

The Wind in the Willows at the Vaudeville Theatre to 17 January. or

Slava’s Snowshow, touring and at Royal Festival Hall to 5 January.

The Little Match Girl at the Lilian Baylis Studio 13 December to 4 January.

The Tin Soldier at the Roundhouse, 13 December to 4 January.

Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells to 11 January, touring to 14 March.


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