Nutcracker dancers work with Chinese dance expert to remove racist stereotypes

Scottish Ballet said it is committed to tackling racism.
Scottish Ballet said it is committed to tackling racism.

Ballerinas rehearsing for The Nutcracker have been working with a traditional Chinese dance specialist as part of their company’s commitment to tackling racism in ballet.

Scottish Ballet has said it is making subtle but significant changes to its upcoming production of the show to help eliminate racist Asian stereotypes.

Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s artistic director, said it is important to do due diligence when representing a culture to ensure it is done so authentically and rectify “inappropriate cultural stereotypes”.

The company’s dancers Alice Kawalek and Kayla-Maree Tarantolo have been working with traditional Chinese fan artist Annie Au as part of this.

Annie Au, left, working with Scottish Ballet dancer Alice Kawalek (Andy Ross/PA)

Mr Hampson, who is also the dance company’s chief executive, said: “At Scottish Ballet, we want to drive anti-racism: clear and simple. If we see racist stereotypes or if we hear about racism within the ballet world, it must be addressed.

“The Nutcracker was created in 1972, when it was acceptable to represent other cultures through imitation.

“If we are representing a culture, it’s important that we have done our due diligence to ensure it is done so authentically.

“By rectifying inappropriate cultural stereotypes, we’re adding to the production’s heritage and making it richer.”

Scottish Ballet said the Chinese and Arabian-inspired scenes in the Land of Sweets will have updated costumes and choreography to “remove elements of caricature” and better represent the culture and traditions which have inspired them.

The Nutcracker opens in Edinburgh on December 1 and will tour Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Belfast between then and February.