Wooden soldier like no other

Updated: 2011-11-13 07:02

By Zhang Kun (China Daily)

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Wooden soldier like no other

Nutcracker Magic blends ballet with acrobats and gymnastic stunts. Provided to China Daily

Nutcracker Magic is the classical ballet merged with acrobats, gymnastic stunts and magic acts, presented in a novel stage design and supported with the latest audio-visual technologies.

The show will premiere on Nov 11 at the new theater at Shanghai Culture Square. The debut round show will continue for 10 days, then go through review and revisions before going on tour in China and abroad.

The director of the show, Liu Jun, is creator of an acrobatic interpretation of Swan Lake, where the white swan pirouetted on the shoulder and head of the male dancer. That show premiered in 2005 and is still touring around the world, with about 100 shows every year.

Borrowing 80 percent of its music from the original composition by Tchaikovsky, Nutcracker Magic tells about a young ballerina from Shanghai, dreaming about winning in a dancing competition, and dance the role of Clara in Nutcracker.

"People all over the world know about China's acrobats. They admit the highly difficult, very challenging stunts, but feel that it lags behind in artistic merit," Liu says. Inspired by forerunners like Cirque du Soleil, former ballerina Liu decided to work with the most acclaimed classics by Tchaikovsky.

"I can guarantee the show will be graceful and highly aesthetic, with a legitimate story line and characters. It's a story about a girl's finding herself, pursuing her dreams and standing against adversity," Liu says.

It's a show tailor-made for the brand new theater of Shanghai Culture Square, which is equipped with all the latest audio-visual technologies in the industry.

It has a stage with 3-D mobility - you can sink it down by 10 meters and draw it back up within half a minute, pull it to either side or draw it backward. The second scene of the show takes place on a cruise ship. The giant steel framework, like the Shanghai-style shikumen architecture in the first scene, could rotate, emerge and disappear with a flip. A giant mirror will stand at a 270-degree angle on stage, creating one more vantage point.

To make a show like Swan Lake, but more appealing to a bigger audience, Liu recruited top dancers, acrobats, choreographers and costume designers from home and abroad.

TV and arena show producer Ric Birch, who has worked as director or producer of the opening or closing ceremony of six Olympic games including the Beijing 2008 Olympics, as well as the opening show of World Expo Shanghai 2010, has joined the production as a creative producer.

Wooden soldier like no other


Nutcracker Magic will be a very busy show - within 90 minutes, some 85 performers will present acrobatic stunts, aerobics, magic acts and corde lisse, all on a stage that changes drastically. At a certain point it will turn into a pond with a fountain shooting water in the center.

"I think modern audiences will enjoy it - young people like my children are always doing five things at the same time. They are used to multi-tasking," Birch says.

It was he who brought along top-notch talents from the entertainment scene: Daniel Ezralow the choreographer from the United States, stage designer Carlos Navarrete-Patino from Canada, and costume designer Roger Kirk from Australia.

"I've seen the Nutcracker in St. Petersburg and it was so traditional, probably the same as the time it was premiered," Birch says, "I was bored. There was no magic, no mystic. It's time for a new revolution."

China Daily