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The Nutcracker: The classic Christmas show returns to Singapore

The quintessential Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, is back this Christmas season. The well-loved characters will come to life on stage and dance their way into the hearts of young and old alike.

For the uninitiated, this classical ballet is based on a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann and follows the adventures of Clara who receives a beautifully crafted doll from Dr Drosselmeyer at a Christmas party.

Presented by the Singapore Dance Theatre, this version of The Nutcracker which was first staged in 2011is set in a pre-WWI, turn-of-the-century Shanghai. It features Clara, the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and is set to Tchaikovsky’s vibrant score.

Singapore Dance Theatre Artistic Director Janek Schergen, who did the choreography and staging, says, “The Nutcracker was the first full-length classical ballet SDT presented in 1992. It is a magical piece that has served as an introduction to ballet for audiences and young dancers alike.”

Besides the professional members of SDT, this enchanting ballet also features promising young students who make up the cast of 80 dancers in each performance.

In the midst of preparing for her role as Sugar Plum Fairy, South Korean dancer Rosa Park took some time out to chat with us about her role and how she fell in love with dancing.

EL: Tell us a little about yourself and how you started dancing.
Rosa: From three to 11 years old, my family lived in Canada and the US. After that, we moved back to South Korea. When I was little, my mother put me in a gymnastics class and I really liked the ballet costume. That’s how I started dancing, because I liked the pretty dress! It was only back in South Korea that I got serious about dancing. I went to art school and university where I trained as a dancer and performing arts artist. I was with the Korean National Ballet for six years from 2002 to 2007 before moving to Singapore with my husband. I took two years off to raise my twin daughters and joined Singapore Dance Theatre in 2009.

How does it feel to take on one of the lead roles in The Nutcracker as the Sugar Plum Fairy?
The Nutcracker is really special to me. I played young Clara for my first professional role when I was 13 years old. I also made my debut as a professional dancer in The Nutcracker in 2002. Dancers all start with The Nutcracker because it’s such a classic. I’ve been dancing The Nutcracker almost every year since I was 13 years old and it’s a different experience every time, especially since I have a different partner each time and we have to build our chemistry.

When I was younger and dancing The Nutcracker, I tried to look more mature. Now that I’m older, I’m trying to act younger! Thankfully I’ve my five-year-old twin girls to keep me in touch with my inner child.

Any plans for the future?
I wish I could stay on stage forever but that’s impossible. I eventually want to teach and impart all the skills and knowledge that I’ve learnt to other aspiring dancers. I’ve taught and mentored dance major students in South Korea but I’ve only recently started teaching again in Singapore.

Lastly, tell us something you like about Singapore.
I love every bit of Singapore – especially the weather! I don’t enjoy cold weather as I like it warm, but you get four seasons in South Korea. Warm weather is better for muscle recovery and Singapore’s weather is great for dancers like me.

If I’m not dancing, you can usually find me at the Botanic Gardens or the Singapore Zoo because my girls love animals and we go almost every week. If I’m not with them, I’m usually somewhere in Dempsey sipping wine with friends and loved ones.

The Nutcracker
4 to 8 December
The Esplanade Theatre
Tickets: $30, $50 and $70
Available through Sistic and Singapore Dance Theatre