Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Awes Kenyan Audiences

Article by Maureen Kasuku
Posted: December 10, 2019

It’s as quintessentially Christmassy as Santa, fir trees and carols. Right now, ballet companies all over the globe are presenting their take on Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker, and families everywhere are planning their annual pilgrimage to see it.

“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” written in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for nearly two hundred years. It is a classic Christmas fairy tale, immortalized by Tchaikovsky’s ballet, brought to life every Christmas in many theatres all over the world.

The ballet is free of theology, steers clear of the nativity story and celebrates festivities to which many families, regardless of religious persuasion, can relate at this time of year. Here is a magical world of young children, parents, toys, Christmas trees, snowflakes and sweets.

The ballet’s first performance in Imperial Russia was in 1892, when it got its premiere in St Petersburg. Back then the show was not seen as much of a success but, propelled by the music as much as the dance, it gradually grew in popularity. It was first performed in its complete form outside Russia in 1934 in Britain. By the 1960s it had spread to the US and quickly became an annual holiday season tradition.

By the 21st Century, the Nutcracker had become a Christmas staple all over the world!

Some interpretations are pushing the envelope in ways the ballet’s Russian creators probably never imagined. In Los Angeles, there is the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, from celebrated choreographer Debbie Allen who’s worked with mega star Beyoncé.

There is also Nutcracker Unbound, a one-off performance featuring modern hip-hop alongside Tchaikovsky and acrobats dancing alongside the ballet. In Seattle, there is Land of the Sweets, a burlesque version featuring semi-nude dancers and advertising itself as a “bawdy makeover” of the original.

The ballet’s enduring appeal has traversed borders and has enchanted Kenyan dance connoisseurs. This festive season, Dance Centre Kenya, Kenya’s premier dance school, showcased this classic for the fifth time in Kenya.

DCK staged the whimsical world of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on December 1st at the Visa Oshwal Auditorium and December 7th & 8th at the Kenya National Theatre.

Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Jonathan Taylor Rush, flew in to conduct the Nairobi Philharmonic Live Orchestra at the Nutcracker performance.

There was a black-tie, gala night on Saturday 7th December from 6:00pm at the Kenya National Theatre.  Delectable Hors d’oeuvre and cocktails were served.

The Matinee shows were  on the 1st, 7th and 8th of December and the Sunday performances included a sugar plum tea party an hour before the show.

Dance Centre Kenya out did themselves once again



About the author

Maureen Kasuku


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