Carlos Acosta gives Cuban twist to Christmas classic 'The Nutcracker'

March 6, 2024 4:13 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Ballet star Carlos Acosta is giving “The Nutcracker” a colourful makeover with a new production inspired by his Cuban roots and traditions.

The 50-year-old has choreographed and directed “Carlos Acosta’s Nutcracker in Havana”, which is set in 1940s and 1950s and has a Cuban version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famed score and as well as ballet, a variety of dance styles.

Launching the show in London on Monday, Acosta shared videos of his Acosta Danza company dancers in rehearsals in Cuba.

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“‘Nutcracker’ means Christmas in many ways, it’s very tied with that festivity but we never had Christmas in Cuba, so I thought that I was going to place the show in the heart of Cuban traditions as a way of giving the Cuban people the Christmas we never had,” he told Reuters.

“I reworked it in a way to bring our own culture in. The Tchaikovsky score is going to be heavily curated so that we could incorporate a fusion of rhythms such as Conga, Latin jazz, Bossa nova and Guaracha… while at the same time you hear that it’s Tchaikovsky all along.”

“The Nutcracker” is a staple for many ballet companies around the festive season. First staged in St Petersburg in 1892, it begins on Christmas Eve and follows young heroine Clara, who falls asleep and slips into a dream world.

Acosta said “The Nutcracker” was the ballet he performed the most during his career.

His production will open on Nov. 1 at Norwich Theatre Royal in the city of Norwich before embarking on a UK tour.

“A lot of the’ Nutcrackers’ we see are very opulent, they’re set in Europe, they’re often danced by predominately white companies,” Norwich Theatre chief executive and creative director Stephen Crocker told Reuters.

“Yeah it’s a European story, but at its very core there’s some amazing characters and some amazing sentiments about hope and magic and that does translate. So it’s fantastic to put it in a Caribbean setting, danced by a global majority company and to bring different elements to it that will connect with people in different ways.”

Crocker said the tour aimed to take the show to towns “that don’t usually get dance of this quality”.