07 / 11 / 2023

Nikolay Tsiskaridze to Create His Version of The Nutcracker

    On 3, 4, and 5 December, Leonid Yacobson Ballet will take to the stage at the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre with a première of The Nutcracker. The show, which will take place at the Tovstonogov Theatre’s main venue, is a brand-new choreographic interpretation by Nikolay Tsiskaridze, People’s Artist of Russia.

    Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is a world-class gem of music theatre. In the 130 years since its creation, the ballet has been reinvented countless times. The composer has managed to capture the touching inner musings of a child through his vivacious, imaginative score, which has been inspiring choreographers to stage more and more productions in a wealth of different styles. But out of them all, Vasili Vainonen’s 1934 rendition is considered the ballet canon. It is this version that has been the highlight of Yacobson Ballet’s playbill for the past few decades. This year, however, our art director Andrian Fadeev has invited Nikolay Tsiskaridze, People’s Artist of Russia and Rector of the Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy, to breathe a new life into this show.

    Andrian Fadeev, Honoured Artist of Russia and art director of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre: ‘Early this December, our theatre is having a première: The Nutcracker, edited by Nikolay Tsiskaridze. During his time as a Bolshoi Theatre principal, Mr. Tsiskaridze was recognised around the world as the best performer to play the Nutcracker Prince; and today, he heads the Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy. Who else, if not him, can create a genuine new classic about the magical world of festive fantasy? Our theatre is honoured and fortunate to work with a Master of his calibre. And we are hoping that our Nutcracker will delight the St. Petersburg public as a fairy-tale gift during the holiday season!’

    Nikolay Tsiskaridze, Bolshoi Theatre principal, People’s Artist of Russia, Rector of the Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy, choreographer and production manager: ‘We are obviously making a show that you can watch with your whole family, but my main goal for this production is to ensure that it will have kids falling in love with ballet for the rest of their life. The Nutcracker needs to radiate kindness, beauty, and charm. This is what Vasili Vainonen’s choreography is all about. He built his show upon the foundation laid down by Lev Ivanov, who had staged The Nutcracker all the way back during Tchaikovsky’s lifetime. And, just as importantly, his choreography respects the traditions of Russian drama, which are what makes Russian theatre so special.’

    Tatiana Noginova, costume designer: ‘For our show’s aesthetic, the choreographer chose Biedermeier, a period of prosperity in the history of Austria, lasting from 1815 to 1840. Which is why I drew a lot of inspiration from the era’s paintings and graphic art while sketching costumes for the show. Portraits of aristocrats, done by the great romanticist painter Karl Bryullov, were a major influence as well. And since The Nutcracker is a Christmas story, I have had to craft something that would make children believe in winter magic. On the one hand, it’s not too complicated. Children’s imagination is not tethered by conventions, they think outside the box because no-one has told them that the box exists yet: as they play, a matchbox can become a car, a salt shaker on the table can become a little soldier, and a paper napkin can become a fantastical dress for a doll. I let this wonderful talent inspire me. But it’s important to bear in mind that, if you truly want children to believe in your magic, you have to work very hard, sincerely, thoughtfully, deeply; you have to pour your whole heart out.’

    Pyotr Okunev, set designer: ‘Our Nutcracker has an eclectic aesthetic. I grew up in the world of theatre, so Simon Virsaladze’s scenery for St. Petersburg and Moscow shows has been imprinted upon my mind since childhood. Of course, all the animated and feature film adaptations of this show have also had their influence, one way or another. But we have to talk to our audience in a modern language, so we turn not only to tradition, but also to the currently relevant trends. I am creating the set alongside video editor Vadim Dulenko, who will be using media technology to sprinkle even more magic into the ballet backdrops.’