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The Nutcracker in Tallinn

Posted on January 25, 2011


As the snow came down in London and much of Europe last December, a group of Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks’ friends travelled to Tallinn for the opening night of the Estonian National Ballet’s new production of The Nutcracker.

Some airports were closed and most flights cancelled, but nearly all of us arrived by various routes to be there for the performance, which was worth every minute of our long journeys. The beautiful medieval city was covered in pure white snow, a perfect backdrop for The Nutcracker. This young, vibrant company – now under the direction of Thomas Edur – gave Ben Stevenson’s popular version of the ballet an exciting freshness.

The first scene was full of humour, followed by a sparkling snow scene enhanced by an enchanting boys’ choir singing from the theatre boxes. The final act gave the soloists a chance to shine, and the audience was thrilled by Eve Andre’s Sugar Plum Fairy, Luana Georg’s Snow Queen and Sergei Upkin’s Nutcracker Prince. Tiny Tiina Ojanen’s child-like portrayal of Clara was appealing, and Artjon Maksokov’s Trepak raised loud and sustained cheers from a packed house.

A glamorous after show party was attended by nearly 200 grandees and ballet lovers, who relished their good fortune at having Tom and Ag back home in Tallinn. Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, with a population of just 1.3 million people, but the company showed a mighty talent.

Luana Georg and Sergei Upkin in The Nutcracker. Photograph courtesy of the Estonian National Ballet.


Jonathan Gray is editor of Dancing Times. He studied at The Royal Ballet School, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon School of Art where he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial department of the Theatre Museum, London, assisting on a number of dance-related exhibitions, and helping with the recreation of original designs for a number of The Royal Ballet’s productions including Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also contributed to the Financial Times, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the book Unleashing Britain: Theatre gets real 1955-64, published in 2005.

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