An acrobatic Nutcracker

Nutcracker Magic features a fusion of art forms. [photo source:]
Liu Jun watched The Nutcracker for the first time when she was 15, on Christmas Eve in London, 1984. For Liu, who started ballet at age 10 and received a scholarship to study at the Royal Ballet in London, the dreamy and graceful classic has lingered in her mind since that night. So much so, that after developing her career as a dancer in Europe for 20 years she returned to China with the idea of presenting her own version of The Nutcracker. In September 2011, Liu fulfilled her wish by presenting Nutcracker Magic - part acrobatics, ballet and magic - for 13 nights at Shanghai Culture Square Theater. She intends to present the show in Beijing and other cities around the country; and at the end of 2012, go on a world tour of 100 performances. "It's not just simply a ballet show. Latin dance, tap dance and a fusion of art forms are incorporated in this new production," Liu says. Tchaikovsky's music and some ballet elements are retained, but the new work has a different storyline and includes magic, acrobatics and exotic sets. "The main reason I love the ballet is that it expresses my emotions and allows me to dream and imagine," Liu says. The show is loosely inspired by the 43-year-old's own life story and follows a young girl, Marie, who wants to dance but is anxious about an international dance competition. She dreams of entering a talent show and the Nutcracker helps her win. She then wakes up, full of confidence, and finds love. "I've watched many talent shows in China, which have lots of ordinary people showing off their talents. Though finally there is just one winner, all of the competitors are enthusiastic about performing and achieving their dreams," Liu says. Liu says ballet is still a minority interest in China and the plot was cooked up by Ric Birch, the production director of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic ceremonies, so it would have popular appeal. "For Liu, a former ballerina, it was much more than just a ballet because she remembered what it was like to be a student and the pressure, just the unrelenting work and the exercise and the tiredness and the pain and the bleeding feet and all the rest of it," Birch says. Liu also called on director of choreography Daniel Ezralow, stage designer Carlos Navarrete-patino, composer An Dong and Tony-award winner, costume designer Roger Kirk. Among the cast of 14 ballet dancers from Beijing and Shanghai and 70 actors from Tianjin Acrobatic Troupe, the female acrobatic twins made Liu proud. The two girls started learning acrobatics at age 12, but the show was a challenge for them. "They learned dancing from Broadway company professionals and added a modern twist on classical ballet," Liu says. This is not the first time Liu has combined ballet and acrobatics. After returning to China, Liu directed a number of innovative dance dramas such as the ballet The Moon Over a Fountain and The Tale of the White Serpent. Her choreography for Swan Lake, staged by Shanghai City Entertainment Group Company has toured the world since 2005.Source:

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