The Royal Ballet changed the “harem scene” at The Nutcracker for a Christmas show in order to “provide an inclusive environment for performers and audiences”.
The scene was reimagined as a duet, rather than the usual three females and a male, fearing it was “offensive” amidst A production overhaul was first carried out in 1972.
The change comes after the chiefs of the Scottish Ballet decided earlier this month to remove ‘caricature elements’. From the Arabic and Chinese sequences after a review found some scenes “racial stereotypes proliferated”.
The Telegraph reported that changes to the Royal Ballet’s production of Sir Peter Wright were written by great ballet teacher and lead artist Gary Aves.
Tuesday night’s performance in The Nutcracker, the first in production, saw only Melissa Hamilton and Lucas B Brundsrud perform the Arabic dance choreography.
The Royal Ballet changed the “harem scene” at The Nutcracker (pictured) for this year’s Christmas show in order to “provide an inclusive environment for performers and audiences”
Tuesday night’s performance in The Nutcracker, the first production, saw only dancers perform Arabic dance after it was altered due to concerns it was “offensive”.
A Royal Ballet spokesperson said: “The Royal Ballet regularly researches the classic repertoire to ensure these works remain as fresh and comprehensive as possible for a wide audience.
“The Nutcracker is one of ballet’s most famous performances and is a perfect introduction to a new audience in this art form.
Kevin O’Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, takes care to ensure that production elements fit within the context of classical ballet.
“In an ongoing process of discussion with company members and visiting guests, The Royal Ballet strives each season to create an inclusive environment for its artists and audience.”
Earlier in November, the dance company announced changes Characters, costumes, and choreography will be presented to scenes in The Land of the Sweets in The Nutcracker, which will feature a team of 40 children.
The second representation from the ballet represents different nationalities through “sweet dances”, including Spanish “chocolate”, “Arabic coffee” and Chinese “tea”.
Drosselmeyer, the enigmatic playmaker and charming figure of 19th century ballet, will be played by both male and female performers for the first time in the company’s history.
An official announcement released earlier this month said, “The Nutcracker is a timeless festive tale that has delighted audiences around the world for more than a century.
To ensure it remains relevant today and into the future, we continue to make subtle but significant changes to some of the characters, costumes and choreography.
The mysterious Drosselmeyer, on this tour, will be played by both male and female dancers.
“And after ongoing consulting, the Chinese and Arabic-inspired transformations at The Land of Sweets will modernize the costumes and choreography to remove elements of the caricature and better represent the culture and traditions that inspired them.”
The dance company will remove “cartoon elements” from the Arabic and Chinese sequences of The Nutcracker as part of an overhaul of a production that premiered in 1972. Pictured: Two dancers performing coffee, the Arabic dance, under the eyes of two dancers in white tutus sitting behind them. Italy, 2013
Sweet Dances: Cultures Represented in the Shredder
The second act of The Nutcracker Ballet represents different nationalities through “sweet dances”.
Foreign dishes were very rare and people were not traveling nearly as often when the ballet was created.
The dances performed by the desserts represent delicacies that are thought to be special enough to feature in the fictional world of the main character Clara.
The costumes of the dancers depict the sweets they bring from abroad.
Special dances include the Spanish “chocolat,” which features vibrant trumpets and cymbals. “Arab coffee”, where women dance with veils; and Chinese “tea”, which includes an exotic Asian choir.
In the “Candy Canes” dance, Russian dolls follow the mandarin tea dances with Russian terbak.
Scottish Ballet admitted last year that their 50-year history “includes antique and racist content.”
An article published on the Scottish Ballet website last year stated: “Classical Ballet and Access to Elite Training Included Racism: The Spread of Racial Stereotypes (The Nutcracker and Petrushka are just two examples).
“By scrutinizing our history and understanding and accepting the ways in which Scottish ballet has been part of and benefited from institutional and systemic racism, we hope to encourage others to do the same.”
‘We had the opportunity to correct some of the choreography in The Nutcracker,’ said Artistic Director Christopher Hampson.
Created at the time [in 1972] When it was accepted to imitate and represent cultures through tradition rather than deep knowledge.
“It’s really about acting, knowing that we’ve done our due diligence and that if we’re representing a culture, we’re doing it authentically.
I think the changes will make production richer.
Audiences are likely to notice a difference in production on the nights a woman plays the role of Druselmayr.
This change happened after I started looking at ballet heroes. There was nothing in the role that made me think that only a man could do it. I thought it could just be a woman.
The company previously pledged to ensure better representation of the Gypsy, Romani and nomadic communities of The Snow Queen after it came under fire last year.
It surveyed all the staff, dancers and board members on anti-racism issues and also conducted anti-racism workshops.