Tuts and tutus: Nutcracker auditions

Young audiences to experience the extraordinary and inspiring world of the Ballet of the Holy Grail. The eight contestants are male and female, are aged between 5 and 11 and not only from Northern Ireland, but across the UK and Ireland as well.

An exclusive audition process – for the first time ever – whittled the six-strong talent shortlist down to three, following which the final eight were flown to London where they all had their very own private ballet lessons and tutu-making session with stylist and freelance choreographer Kiddy Walshe.

Following the ‘Nutcracker’ rehearsals last week, they presented their incredible dancing skill, choreography and personal ‘Nutcracker’ recital to a packed house at the Theatre Royal. These 12 Northern Ireland competitors will, for the first time ever, have their very own Nutcracker tutu-making session – which will be shown on the Guinness Storehouse at The Big One Rehearsal for Life.

“As a ‘Nutcracker’ company, we wanted to create an inclusive programme that showcased the knowledge and talent that we have, and to create the ‘Nutcracker’ that the whole family can be proud of” said Simon Brannigan, General Manager of the Irish dance company.

“While it is normally only the adults who love this magical Christmas tradition, we wanted to show that there are always an infinite number of talented dancers with the potential to become extraordinary adults!”

“There is a wonderful camaraderie within the company”, Brannigan continued, “and it is always a pleasure to see the incredible performances these aspiring ballet dancers will bring to it as adults.”

With 50 years in the ballet industry, Irish dance star Darragh Clancy, on stage as an instructor for the past nine years, is delighted with this year’s crop of potential stars.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this year’s ‘Nutcracker’ programme with the children. Most are from very poor backgrounds in Northern Ireland, having no access to any form of recreational dance whatsoever. Many of them have been given ballet lessons for the first time. The level of talent is amazing and exciting – the poise, technique and discipline is absolutely fabulous and I am confident that the programme will hopefully help them to grow even bigger and better.

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