For the first time ever, Birmingham Royal Ballet is bringing The Nutcracker to the Royal Albert Hall this Christmas.

This quintessentially festive tale sees Clara’s nutcracker doll come to life, and sweep her away to the magical kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Between 28 – 31 December, four shining Principals will be performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Céline, Momoko, Miki and Jenna.

Scroll to get to know them better:

Trinidadian-born Céline Gittens grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and trained at Vancouver’s Goh Ballet Academy. She joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2006, and began dancing Principal in 2016.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR DOWN TIME?
I love being outdoors and enjoying the wonders of nature. England isn’t short of idyllic countryside walks that are full of rich history and delightful, picturesque scenes!

Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton by Bill Cooper
Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton

Momoko Hirata was born in Japan and studied at the Reiko Yamamoto Ballet School, before the Royal Ballet School. She joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2003, and started dancing Principal with the company in 2013.

SUM UP THE NUTCRACKER IN FOUR WORDS
I only need one – MAGICAL!!

What is the most challenging thing about dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy?

Momoko: Whenever we start rehearsing The Nutcracker, it truly feels like Christmas has arrived! It’s always such a pleasure dancing Sugar Plum and I aim to add some more character to her each year but it’s definitely one of the hardest roles to dance. It requires stamina, pure technique, everything you could think of… I’ve done it many times but it doesn’t get easier!

Miki: I danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time last season and I’d wanted to dance the role from the moment I started ballet, so honestly, it feels like a dream – it’s really magical dancing this role! As this grand pas de deux is so classic, I think carefully about every single movement – right from my fingers to my toes – all the time. I also focus on my breathing, as it makes such a difference in movement.

Céline Gittens as the Sugar Plum Fairy by Bill Cooper
Céline Gittens as the Sugar Plum Fairy

What is it like returning to the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy on such an iconic stage?

Céline: The Nutcracker signifies the beginning of the festive season for so many and so it is always a joy to return to a role such as Sugar Plum that is so infused with pure, classical refinement. The grand pas de deux brings a regal grandeur to the atmosphere onstage, which radiates to the audience – it is a truly captivating production to be a part of. It’s an honour to perform on the Royal Albert Hall stage, as it holds such a rich history of performances from the most iconic artists of different genres.

Miki Mizutani was born in Japan and studied at the Acri-Horimoto Ballet Academy, before the English National Ballet School. She joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2012 and became a soloist in 2017.

WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM ROLES BE?
I’d like to dance as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty because I love pure classical dance, and also Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, because I would love the challenge of dancing such a dramatic role.

What are you most looking forward to about dancing at The Royal Albert Hall?

Miki: I remember watching Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall and everything from the stage and audience were simply magnificent, so I’m looking forward to performing there.

Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman by Roy Smiljanic
Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman

Australian-born Jenna Roberts trained at the Marie Walton-Mahon Dance Academy, Australia, and the Royal Ballet School. She joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2003 and started dancing Principal with the company in 2012.

MOST CHALLENGING THING YOU HAVE DONE?
Coming back to dance after a potentially career-ending injury.

Jenna Roberts rehearses part of the famous Sugar Plum Fairy solo:

THE NUTCRACKER
Thursday 28 – Sunday 31 December 2017
For the first time ever, Birmingham Royal Ballet brings an enchanting production of this Christmas favourite to the Royal Albert Hall. This magical ballet, with its ravishing Tchaikovsky score, is the quintessential Christmas treat for all the family.
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