The Australian Ballet

The Nutcracker: An Evolution

1280 x 550 202 The Nutcracker 7pm Dress Sydney credit Daniel Boud min

Tchaikovsky’s most delightful score, a cosy Yuletide party, dancing snowflakes and flowers, a glittering Sugar Plum Fairy … it’s no wonder that The Nutcracker is a mainstay of the ballet calendar.

We performed our first version of The Nutcracker, choreographed by David Lichine, on 28 December, 1963, at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. We’ve been gliding off to the Land of Sweets ever since. A lavish production by the Russian husband-and-wife team Valentina Kozlova and Leonid Kozlov in the 1980s was followed by an inventive contemporary version by Graeme Murphy in the 1990s. In 2014, we took Peter Wright’s sublime traditional production into our repertoire.

Come whirl in the snow as we trace the changing look of the ultimate Christmas ballet.

600 x 800 The Nutcracker 07521 min

Photography James Robinson

The Sixties

A rare find from our archives shows the ballerina Kathleen Gorham as the Sugar Plum Fairy in David Lichine's production.

The Eighties

Valentina Kozlova, with Simon Dow, shines as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the production she and her husband Leonid created for The Australian Ballet in 1982. Kozlova, a dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, defected from Russia in 1979; she was a principal artist of The Australian Ballet, and later of New York City Ballet. The Kozlovs' production featured exquisite, whimsical designs by painter Hugh Oliviero.

600 x 800 june min

Valentina Kozlova and Simon Dow. Photography Athol Shmith

600 x 900 min

Gary Norman and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Branco Gaica

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Andrea Toy and Paul Hamilton. Photography Branco Gaica

The Nineties

Graeme Murphy's inventive version has an ageing Clara remembering her life as a Mariinsky Ballet star, travelling all over the world with the Ballets Russes after the heartbreak of losing her lover in the Russian Revolution.

600 x 900 oct min

Jarryd Madden and Leanne Stojmenov. Photography Jeff Busby

600 x 800 TAB Nutcracker The Story of Clara Photo Lynette Wills 2017 16 min

Chrissa Keramidas. Photography Lynette Wills

600 x 900 TAB Nutcracker The Story of Clara Photo Lynette Wills 2017 31 min

Artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Lynette Wills

Russian min

Artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Branco Gaica

The Two Thousands

When it comes to traditional versions of The Nutcracker, none is more perfect in each detail Peter Wright's. Every element of the spell, from the Christmas party to the slightly sinister Drosselmeyer to the fight with the Rat King to the wondrous Land of Sweets, is beautifully realised. As London's Independent critic put it, "its marvels are properly marvellous".

600 x 800 109 The Nutcracker 1pm Dress Sydney credit Daniel Boud min

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo. Photography Daniel Boud

600 x 800 033 The Nutcracker 1pm Dress Sydney credit Daniel Boud min

Yuumi Yumada. Photography Daniel Boud

600 x 900 april min

Lisa Craig. Photography Lynette Wills

600 x 900 dec min

Eloise Fryer and Imogen Chapman. Photography Lynette Wills

600 x 900 KL 50 nutcracker 0 G4 A7318 min

Andrew Killian. Photography Kate Longley

600 x 800 109 The Nutcracker 1pm Dress Sydney credit Daniel Boud min

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo. Photography Daniel Boud

600 x 800 033 The Nutcracker 1pm Dress Sydney credit Daniel Boud min

Yuumi Yumada. Photography Daniel Boud

600 x 900 april min

Lisa Craig. Photography Lynette Wills

600 x 900 dec min

Eloise Fryer and Imogen Chapman. Photography Lynette Wills

600 x 900 KL 50 nutcracker 0 G4 A7318 min

Andrew Killian. Photography Kate Longley