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Friday, March 31, 2023

When The Nutcracker Returns, Companies Are Reimagining Asians

KJ Takahashi, a City Ballet dancer who stars in the tea scene in this year’s Nutcracker, which opened the day after Thanksgiving, said he welcomes the change. Takahashi, an American of Japanese descent, said the changes made him feel more included. However, he said more could be done, noting that he considered the costumes to be outdated and unreliable.

“The little things matter,” he said. “We can go deeper into accuracy.”

The Colorado Ballet staged The Nutcracker in new costumes this month, including the Tea scene. Instead of traditional red and gold outfits, the dancers are dressed in a variety of colors. The dragon that appears on the stage is covered in images of Asian street food.

Some companies are completely redesigning the tea scene, believing that more can be done to resonate with today’s audience.

Peter Boal, artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, has been experimenting with ways to soften Asian stereotypes in his Nutcracker since 2015. Changes in opening times, November 26th.

He has long wanted to add a cricket to the Nutcracker, a symbol of good fortune in China. It got clearance from the Balanchine Trust, which owns the rights to the version the company runs, just a few weeks ago. (Boal said the early sketches were deemed too error-prone by the foundation staff.)

On a visit to Sweet Land, cricket now emerges from a box being rolled on stage and performs a series of acrobatic moves, very similar to the original choreography, in which a man wearing stereotypical Chinese clothing stepped out of the box.

World Nation News Desk
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