From 11 December to 1 January, Dutch National Ballet is once again presenting that ideal Christmas ballet: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the highly acclaimed production by Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling. Nearly fifty students and pupils of the National Ballet Academy are taking part in this magical fairytale ballet, which Van Schayk has situated so magnificently on the canals of Amsterdam. This time, three girls and three boys from NBA3 and NBA4 were selected to dance the roles of the young Clara and Fritz.
Whether as mice, soldiers or children at the party, young dancers play a big part in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet even has two main roles for children: Clara and her brother Fritz. On the eve of St Nicholas, Clara’s uncle Drosselmeyer gives her a nutcracker doll. At night, in her dreams, the doll turns into a handsome prince, with whom she has lots of adventures. But that is only after the party, when her boisterous little brother breaks off the doll’s head.
Eline van der Korst (13) and Hana Hvas (13), who have been chosen to dance the role of Clara, along with Lieke van Beek (12), can identify with this. Eline: ‘I know just what it’s like to be teased by your brother, like Clara’. Hana: ‘Yes, my brother teases me too’. Christian Mathot (13), one of the three boys dancing Fritz, does not take it personally. Although he has two sisters, he says blushingly ‘I don’t think I tease them often’. Mingus de Swaan (12) thinks he’s a bit like Fritz, but then in a different way. ‘Like him, I’m a bit of a tyrant. I like to get my own way’.
Acting to musical counts
The children started rehearsing their roles before the summer holiday, coached by NBA teacher Fred Berlips. The girls find it particularly difficult to play a younger child, as they have gained quite a bit of independence in recent years. Eline: ‘In rehearsals, Fred keeps saying “You’re still a little girl, so you have to act that way”’. Sven de Wilde (12), the third and youngest Fritz, says ‘And not only do you have to act; you also have to do everything on a particular musical count. And you’ve got to remember it all, as well’.
The children say that most of the time they can cope with all the tension, but occasionally it does get to them. Hana: ‘In October, we went with school to watch the dress rehearsal of Giselle and then you think: help – it’s not long before I’ll be out there alone on that stage’.
A promotional video of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King shows a portrait of NBA pupil Eline van der Korst and Dutch National Ballet principal Maia Makhateli as the young and the adult Clara. NBA pupils Hana Hvas and Mingus de Swaan were filmed during preparations for the ballet for a teaser for the RTL programme Theaterkids.
For more information and reservations, see www.operaballet.nl