TIS the season to be jolly, almost, so to get you in the mood The Northern Ballet is performing The Nutcracker in Aylesbury this week.
The festive family favourite is showing at the Waterside Theatre until Saturday.
“It is a very traditional ballet and is perfect to get you in the Christmas spirit,” explains premier dancer Pippa Moore.
Pippa dances the role of Clara, who dreams that her Christmas presents come to life.
She is swept away by her Nutcracker prince into a magical winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes and the famous Sugar Plum Fairy.
“The role of Clara is one of my favourite to dance,” said Pippa.
“I think a lot of the other roles in ballet are quite complex and emotional which is rewarding, but Clara has youthful exuberance and innocence, there’s no hidden depth. It’s a magical journey.
“There’s lots that people will find familiar in the music and dancing, it brings people’s imagination back to life and they want their children to enjoy it as well. It is a timeless story.”
Pippa joined the Northern Ballet, which had just moved into a new purpose-built home in Leeds in 1996, and she has performed lead roles in Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Madame Butterfly.
The company first performed this version of the Nutcracker in 2007 and has performed it each Christmas since.
“It is such a family favourite that we bring it back each year,” said Pippa.
“It took about three weeks for us to rehearse and get it ready to perform, but we have to fit the rehearsals in around performing a different show each night.”
Pippa and the rest of the cast are in rehearsals or performing for a total of six hours everyday.
They get Sundays off and spend Mondays travelling to their next venue.
“It is difficult and you have to love what you do otherwise it can become very hard work. But I still really enjoy the lifestyle.”
Despite its image as a more traditional art form, Pippa believes that ballet has undergone a resurgence in recent years – largely thanks to the popularity of reality shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.
“I think it is more popular than ever at the moment, even though we are fighting the same problems as everyone else in terms of the recession,” she said.
“Interest and the popularity of dance has increased phenomenally over the past few years thanks to TV shows and dance films, and being in our new home in Leeds we have new classes that people can get involved in and the public can come and visit us so it has really raised our profile.
“TV shows have had a big impact as people think maybe ballet isn’t so scary – it has bridged the gap and made it more accessible.”
The current tour of The Nutcracker ends in November, when the cast will begin a new tour of Beauty and the Beast.
Pippa and her fellow dancers are in high demand during the festive season, but The Northern Ballet does give them Christmas Day off at least.
“A lot of families want to go to the theatre on Christmas Eve so we have to work,” she said.
“We do get Christmas Day off but it’s not like you can have a big slap-up meal and relax on the sofa all day.
“But like I said, you have to love the job and luckily I do.”
The Nutcracker is showing at Waterside until Saturday. For tickets call 0844 871 7607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury