The Royal Ballet wakes up: a dance company abandons the “harem scene” in The Nutcracker this Christmas

The Royal Ballet modified the “harem scene” in The Nutcracker for the Christmas performance in order to “create an inclusive environment for performers and audiences”.

The scene was redesigned as a duo, instead of the usual three women and one man, for fear that it would be “offensive” in the middle. a redesign of a production staged for the first time in 1972.

The change comes after the bosses of the Scottish Ballet decided earlier this month to remove ‘cartoon elements’ from Arabic and Chinese footage after a review, some scenes revealed that some scenes “proliferated racial stereotypes”.

The changes to Sir Peter Wright’s Royal Ballet production were written by principal ballet master and lead artist Gary Avis, The Telegraph reported.

Tuesday night’s performance of The Nutcracker, the production’s premiere, saw only Melissa Hamilton and Lukas B Brændsrød perform the Arabic dance.

The Royal Ballet changed the “harem scene” in The Nutcracker (pictured) for this year’s Christmas show in order to “create an inclusive environment for performers and audiences”

Tuesday night's performance of The Nutcracker, the production's first, saw only two dancers perform the Arab dance after it was altered over fears it might be

Tuesday night’s performance of The Nutcracker, the production’s first, saw only two dancers perform the Arabic dance after it was changed over fears it was “offensive”

A spokesperson for the Royal Ballet said: “The Royal Ballet regularly reviews the classical repertoire to ensure that these works remain fresh and as inclusive as possible for a wide audience.

“The Nutcracker is one of the best-known ballets and is the perfect introduction for a new audience to this art form.

‘Kevin O’Hare, director of the Royal Ballet, is keen to ensure that the elements of production are appropriate in the context of classical ballet.

“In an ongoing process of discussion with company members and guests, the Royal Ballet strives each season to create an inclusive environment for its performers and audiences.”

Earlier in November, the dance company announced changes characters, costumes and choreography would be brought to the stages of Candy Land in The Nutcracker, which will feature a cast of 40 children.

Act two of the ballet depicts different nationalities through “candy dances” including Spanish “chocolate”, Arabic “coffee” and Chinese “tea”.

Drosselmeyer, the enigmatic toy maker and 19th century ballet magician, will be played by male and female performers for the first time in the company’s history.

An official announcement earlier this month said: “The Nutcracker is a timeless festive story that has delighted audiences around the world for over a century.

“To make sure it remains relevant today and into the future, we continue to make subtle but important changes to certain characters, costumes and choreography.

“The enigmatic Drosselmeyer will, in this tour, be performed by male and female dancers.

And, as a result of ongoing consultations, the Chinese and Arabic-inspired entertainment in The Land of Sweets will have updated costumes and choreography to remove elements of caricature and better represent the culture and traditions that brought them to life. inspired. “

The dance company will remove the

The dance company will remove “caricature elements” from the Arabic and Chinese sequences of The Nutcracker as part of a revamp of a production first staged in 1972. Pictured: Two dancers perform at the café , Arab dance, under the eyes of two ballerinas wearing white tutus sitting behind them. Italy, 2013


Act two of the Nutcracker Ballet represents different nationalities through the “candy dances”.

Foreign delicacies were very rare and people did not travel as much when the ballet was created.

The dances performed by the sweets represent delicacies considered special enough to feature in the fantasy world of the main character Clara.

The dancers’ costumes represent sweets they bring back from overseas.

Special dances include Spanish “chocolate”, with animated trumpets and castanets; Arabic “café”, where women dance in veils; and Chinese ‘Tea’, which involves an exotic Asian flute chorus.

In the “Candy Canes” dance, Russian dolls follow the Mandarin tea dances with a Russin trepak.

Last year, the Scottish Ballet admitted that its 50-year history “included outdated and racist artistic content”.

An article published on the Scottish Ballet website last year said: “Classical ballet and access to elite training have included racism: the proliferation of racial stereotypes (The Nutcracker and Petrushka are just some examples).

“By examining our own history, understanding and accepting how the Scottish Ballet has been part of and benefited from institutional and systemic racism, we hope to encourage others to do the same.”

Artistic Director Christopher Hampson said: “We had the opportunity to correct some of the choreography of The Nutcracker.

‘It was created at a time [in 1972] when it was acceptable to imitate cultures and represent them by imitation rather than by in-depth knowledge.

“It’s really about representation, knowing that we have done due diligence and that if we represent a culture then we are doing it authentically.

“I think the changes will make the production richer.

“Audiences are perhaps more likely to notice a difference in production on nights when Drosselmeyer is played by a woman.

“This change happened after I started watching who our heroes are in ballets. There was nothing in the role that made me think only a man could play it. I thought it might as well be a woman.

The company had previously pledged to ensure better representation of the Gypsy, Roma and traveler communities in The Snow Queen after being criticized last year.

He interviewed all staff, dancers and board members on anti-racism issues and also organized anti-racism workshops.

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