Series going behind the scenes at English National Ballet during a dramatic year concludes with artistic director Wayne Eagling creating a fraught production of The Nutcracker.
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On stage, a ballet dancer is serene, elegant and measured,
but behind the scenes it's a different story.
Do this. Derek says this is what it is. Do it.
With unprecedented access to English National Ballet,
one of the UK's elite dance companies,
this series will reveal what it takes
to put on a world class ballet.
This time we follow the turbulent creation of a brand new Christmas Nutcracker.
This production is the jewel in our crown.
People will think back on tonight
as a defining moment in the success of the company.
He goes for...no, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Ballet's not finished.
We ain't finished.
Dancers and staff are fighting to pull the show together for opening night.
We don't know what's going to happen and the show starts in 20 minutes.
I get, it will be OK.
But it's never OK.
I actually don't know the steps yet.
You'll survive this.
I don't survive bad reviews.
The artistic director of English National Ballet is Wayne Eagling
and he's heading into the companies home in Kensington, West London for rehearsals.
Wayne is responsible for the creative vision of eight ballets
a year and oversees the 64 dancers who perform them.
I was a dancer
and then I've been Artistic Director of English National Ballet
for five years now, and of course right at this moment we're busy
with doing a new production of the Nutcracker.
It will be the tenth production that the company has done.
So it's majorly important,
artistically and financially, that it's good.
To celebrate the company's 60th anniversary,
Wayne has been invited to choreograph a lavish new Nutcracker.
Management rely on the ongoing success of the Nutcracker
to bring in 30% of their box office sales.
They're replacing their old version after eight years.
I liked the last Nutcracker
but people complained that it was too avant-garde,
it was too cartoonish and it wasn't traditional.
There wasn't a Christmas tree in the way that it normally is
and so to have one that's set in Edwardian London with gas lights,
All the stuff that we have, if this works - which, touch wood, it will - that solves that.
It is the most important show that we do. Not just this one, but ever.
The Nutcracker, as you well know, is our bread and butter.
This has to sell better than anything else we're doing.
He's definitely feeling the pressure and, you know, just trying to get
to trying to pin him down
anywhere except in the studio is impossible.
So creating a programme for his Nutcracker, I just made it up
because he hasn't got the time to sit down and talk to me about it.
And also Wayne is choreographing this Nutcracker on top of being
Artistic Director of the company, so he doesn't stop doing that.
He still has to do all the things that he does normally.
Casting, repertoire, all of that has to still happen.
You know, Wayne is rather chaotic in the way he works but when you see him work, he's brilliant.
Wayne has been planning his new Nutcracker for nine months,
but as he has been overseeing numerous other productions
he is struggling to find any spare moments in which to choreograph.
This is my out door office.
Up in the office there's always somebody knocking on the door
or some question being asked and here it's a little bit less hectic.
I enjoy the process of choreographing
and do a lot with choreographers and...
I know, I sort of, when I look at things I know what I like.
I think I'm a craftsman.
Wayne is a world renowned choreographer, having created more than 25 ballets.
One of the most successful was the Nutcracker at the Dutch National Ballet.
But for the English National Ballet it's too big to tour
so Wayne must recreate 75% from scratch.
I'm having to change things to make it not just a reproduction of the Dutch National.
I'm, you know, constantly brought back because it took two years to work out that.
So now there's a lot of pressure to do a production
as good as that with a lot less time.
With just six weeks of dedicated rehearsal time, Wayne is under pressure.
Daily rehearsals have started and he's working on one of the most technically difficult group dances
called the Mirlitons, featuring 21-year-old Ksenia Ovsyanick.
I'm stretching for my Mirlitons rehearsal.
It usually requires a bit of extra warm up.
I mean, some people would say it's quite crazy to stretch
from, you know, so high up.
It is quite technically hard.
There are some high legs and big jumps.
I spend more time than usual warming up for Mirlitons because...
it's quite like it's dance starts straight, full on.
She's here. She goes forte, forte.
Ksenia has been with the company for two years
and is a member of the Core De Ballet, the lowest rank of dancers.
I really love dancing. I know it's part of me to dance.
I am quite a perfectionist.
I do have the goal to be a principal one day.
You're never sure. Can I?
Am I good enough to be hoping for this?
And up. Usually Core De Ballet dancers
don't do much partnering so I've made some of the things
as difficult as if they were doing principal roles
and I want it to be a challenge to do.
Yeah, it's too kind of clumsy.
For Ksenia to master the complex dance, she relies heavily on the three boys who lift her.
Max Westwell. Pedro Lapetra and Anton Lukovkin.
Just go round. Let me just see how this feels.
With some choreographers have it in their mind what they want to do
and I work differently, I set an idea and I hope that the dancers
will experiment with what they can bring to it.
I don't know, they just need to try something. I don't want to do it.
No, it can't be like that.
He goes forward.
He goes for...no, whoa, whoa, whoa.
He goes forward. That's forward. Now you turn.
Anton, you're going to have to improve your partnering otherwise I don't think you can do this.
It's not going to help when somebody's saying this doesn't work.
I know it doesn't work I'm trying to make it work.
That's it, now come...oh!
You just come down, don't say anything.
Don't show like you didn't like it, or something like that.
Don't pull her legs passed 90 degrees.
When you're creating, you keep stopping and nothing works.
If I'm spending time on the Mirlitons,
which I should have finished by now,
that means I've got more time pressure to do the rest of it.
I'll have to cut that out, it's too violent.
I think we can run with her a bit more,
four, five, six, seven.
God, I hate this number.
Wayne's ambitious glitzy new Nutcracker requires the creation of elaborate sets and costumes.
Lizzie Shoyer and Cathy Hill from the wardrobe department
have been working hard for the past six months.
My job on Nutcracker is to bring the costume designs to the stage
and to make 150 costumes and to supply
the wigs and the shoes and all of the accessories.
That's the first cast only. There will be multiples of that.
Each costume can take up to five weeks to make.
This is the king rat.
A mouse king costume.
The most intricate costume has been made for Clara, the female lead.
Her Sugar Plum Fairy tutu requires hundreds of crystals to be hand-stitched.
Senior principal Fernanda Oliveira is trying on the tutu
having just returned from maternity leave.
How does it feel to be in this dress?
It feels all right.
It's just the first try because I couldn't do any fittings before
because I was still with the pregnancy weight.
It couldn't even closed on the first fitting.
I was fighting to come back. I think I took 16 weeks.
I think I had to prove something to myself,
you know, if you really put yourself a task
and you set your head to do it, you can do anything really.
Do you still need an extra bit round your bum
or is that going to be OK now it's lower?
But when you put a tutu on and you can see everything, there's nothing to hide.
Everything is out that's showing to the audience, so it needs to be like perfect.
-Are you safe? You're not going to...
-No, it's not going to go anywhere.
It was hard to get my body back in shape.
I had to do a lot of Pilates and I think because I started rehearsing quite,
quite soon I think that helped a bit.
But I still have some of the weight.
It hasn't all gone yet.
Fernanda is one of five dancers who will perform the lead role of Clara.
The multiple casts are needed for the 33 performances
across the gruelling Christmas season at the Coliseum Theatre.
Czech dancer Daria Klimentova is the most experienced of the five Clara's.
Well, "kind of" casting's out on paper
and, yes, my name is first, so we'll see.
I'm still laughing. We'll see how long it will stay
when the pressure will hit in.
The dancers are under pressure because Wayne's choreography is behind schedule.
At this stage the company hope they will be able to rehearse the whole ballet
but Wayne still has 12 minutes to create.
As you get closer to the timing, the pressure builds.
What I don't want to do is, in the last two weeks, think,
"Well, I'll just have to do any old rubbish
"because I've got to get it on stage."
I want it to be good rubbish.
In Marden, Kent, English National Ballet have a huge store room
where they keep thousands of costumes and sets
from previous productions.
This space will be used for the next three days of rehearsals
to help accommodate the large scale production of Wayne's Nutcracker.
The next three days gives me a chance to look at where the flaws might be.
There's lots of gaps that I need to do a little bit here, a little bit there,
so this will give me an idea, if I run it,
I can see what I need to do, what I need to change.
Although there is missing choreography,
the plan is to run the ballet from start to finish
so that the costume and technical departments can show Wayne all their work.
It's a big production.
The next three days are vital for us, really,
cos it's our only chance before we get to the theatre
to fix any technical issues with the costumes, the props and the scenery.
Cos there's hundreds of props that we still need to get
and, you know, we've got two weeks left.
Probably better here, right?
Worse case scenario is that we get to the Coliseum
having not tried a lot of this stuff.
In Amsterdam the scene was there but it was lit...
Wayne's production is a visual extravaganza with elaborate props,
dancing and theatrical stunts all happening at the same time.
Children, masks, pantomime horses. Cheese.
All the props, guns, swords. All of that.
People expect shows and television and cinema to be interesting.
It takes a lot of things happening.
I don't want the audience to be...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Inspired by seeing the production come together,
Wayne can't resist adding more details to the choreography,
instead of running the ballet as planned.
And you'll be sitting in this thing for the first bit,
and we'll sort out when that is, and you'll skate on and skate off.
Then you'll come back on and you'll get out.
Ready? And go. Push.
So we're a little bit behind schedule at the moment
but these things, that's how they go.
It's very difficult cos Wayne has to see that it all works properly
before we can move on.
Like the scene teaching the sledge. Or just not teaching them.
Just trying to invent something for them to do,
and Wayne says, "Just bring them on there, spin them round a bit and go off."
But in what counts? How do you want them to be?
Do you want them to be having fun?
Do you want them to be in awe of the tree or the house or, or what?
Go. Mind, mind, mind.
We're trying to help out as much as possible but everything is in Wayne's head.
Yes, we know that this goes here, that goes there, but then we don't know the little bits in between.
They're still back there.
No, no, still back there.
I've spent an hour on it and then he'll say, "I don't like that."
Still back there.
We're going to change this.
With Wayne making changes, the wardrobe department are bracing themselves for alterations.
Julie Heggie, the shoe mistress, is more nervous than most as today is the first time
Wayne has seen the 600 pairs of new shoes she has made.
Everything that they wear on their feet is down to me, full stop.
That's the remit of the job,
and I do this single handed.
I don't have any help, so it's quite pressurised when it's a show like this.
There's only so many hours in the day where you can actually stand and paint ballet boots.
Ra-da-da-da-da, tut-al-at-ta-ta five, six, seven, eight.
It's great. It's fantastic. I'm very pleased.
Maybe stick fur on the boots?
Not that I know anything about design.
-Well, we can make another ballet shoes.
His boots, we're thinking maybe we might just put them in ballet shoes.
-OK. For all the rat kings?
I'd do that if I were you.
They might not have the boots after all.
What is he going to wear on his feet then?
Ballet shoes instead.
For once it's the one thing that he's already bloody sorted
and now I'm going to have to do an alternative.
-Don't cry yet.
-It's already started. I had a good howl last night.
Seriously and I got very upset.
-It's not anything to get overwhelmed by.
-I am overwhelmed by it, Cathy.
You know I'm overwhelmed by it. It is totally overwhelming,
and as I get older it gets harder.
Let me know what I can do to help and...mmm. OK.
So, guys, let's go from you coming on again.
After two days in Marden, Wayne has made an array of changes
and so will now not be able to rehearse every scene in the ballet.
The speed of light. No, it's very slow.
Ksenia and her three male partners have been waiting all day to perform the unfinished Mirlitons.
A dance that Wayne has found the most difficult to choreograph.
I think maybe you just go like this.
I'm going to do this.
You're on the shoulders.
I think I've done it.
No, we haven't done it.
Well, I haven't got the video and I can't remember it, so let's just do it next week.
You've got it on your phone?
The dancers turn to a video on a phone of Wayne's old production to learn the finale of the dance.
-Learn it off the phone?
He wants like a variation of what they did here,
cos he hasn't got time to choreograph something,
or I'm not quite sure why,
so we're learning it off the video
and... I'm sure he'll tweak it to what he wants.
We're just taking some initiative.
Then he said, "Done, boring." OK, fine.
But the thing is, we're going to be on stage, not...
We have two weeks left and it's...
There's still these two weeks.
But it's so far from ready.
Does it worry you?
It's just the attitude
that they have, doesn't help.
They don't, they're not trying to help us, they just blame us.
It kind of doesn't help.
I'm quite worried, to be honest...
..because obviously, like, I want to go on stage and do my best.
Especially because it's opening night and all the reviewers go
and it's quite important for a dancer.
And when you get blamed for doing it wrong it makes you feel worse.
I hoped that miraculously it would happen
but when it doesn't it is quite upsetting, but...
That was a glorified costume fitting, wasn't it, really?
For me it was six hours of wasted time
so it's a major stress for me because I've got to whip up choreography that
normally would take much longer so the danger is you just do
any old shit to fill in the time and the music to get to the end.
So when it gets to the Coliseum next week there are no gaps.
So that's the danger. I mean, we may be lucky and do fabulous shit.
You know, you never know, but you don't have the luxury of time.
I mean, I thought of having them just stand still
for the bits I hadn't done
and then people going, "What a genius,"
you know, just freeze,
and possibly some, some people might find that just fabulous.
You know, in the end it has to be finished.
But it's not just the missing 12 minutes of choreography Wayne has to worry about.
The UK has been hit by the worst early snow fall in 20 years.
The dancers are able to rehearse back in London but the store rooms in Marden are cut off
and Al Riches, the technical director,
is struggling to get his team working on the sets and props.
I spoke to Roger today, it took him, like, five hours and he didn't get anywhere near it
so bring a bag and I'll find you a hotel or a B&B
or just stay in the offices, or whatever you want to do.
Yeah, I felt quite comfortable three or four days ago
but now it's like we've lost two days
and not only two days but there's been people
who have been just spent three days at work
and spent four hours or eight hours sleeping in their car or stuck in...
You know, I just need to get them to stop work and not work tomorrow,
get down there on Friday, hopefully.
I don't want people sitting on the motorway for five hours and getting knackered.
I want them just to have some rest, go in there and work. Whatever it takes.
I'm asking them to do extraordinary hours to get this done.
In Kensington, Wayne and his staff must finish
the ballet in the studios before they move to the Coliseum Theatre.
Wayne knows what he hasn't choreographed and it is about ten to 12 minutes.
Well, he's only had five weeks, I think,
to choreograph a two-hour ballet,
but normally if we're in a tight situation like this,
when we do the Albert Hall, The Gershwin or The Swan Lake
we'd normally only have one cast on
because there's no time to rehearse any other cast,
but at the Albert Hall there's only 12 shows or 13 shows.
We've got three ½ weeks for this so we can't just have one cast.
With so many casts to rehearse, the dancers must grab whatever time they can.
But with childcare difficulties, senior principal Fernanda also has to look after her young son.
Can you look after him for a second?
I'm going to go and change and then I'll come back.
I have to go through rehearsal this time because I'm not really sure about it.
But it's going to be all right, I think.
He was trying to choreograph and we're just on the side trying to pick out every single section
because we have to do the rehearsal today.
At the back.
'You try to get as quick as possible in our bodies as well.'
It probably takes us another week to be comfortable doing it
so we are trying to get everything that he's saying to us, and what he wants as well.
Three, four, five.
We have to add these rats here so it's another thing to do later.
Just keep playing.
So we have to do this.
So we have to do this?
It's all got to be done.
This bits not been made yet.
This bit is a bit of nothing at the moment,
there's no choreography as of yet.
I don't know how I'm going to finish.
If all the rehearsals have to keep going back
and redoing everything we've done.
I can't say anything.
OK, we'll finish it later.
I wish I could blame the snow but it's not the snow.
What news on puppets?
I think he's too big.
I've just had a two hour call and got as far as the puppets.
-It just looks a bit odd.
-I'll ask them what they can do.
So it's just a bit behind at the moment?
It's got a very big behind.
Yeah, we're very behind... and we open a week tomorrow.
And that's scary. Well, I'm scared.
So what is it now?
It's quarter to 12, I've got another 12 hours to go possibly.
It's the final day of rehearsals
at English National Ballet head quarters
and Craig Hassall, the managing director, wants an update.
In the second act I've got the death of the Mouse King
and the entrance of the Mouse King.
-Puppet theatre because that was crap.
-Oh, yeah. Gone?
No, I have to do it but you couldn't move them,
they were just these huge heads with stick bodies.
He has six minutes left to choreograph which is a bit worrying.
Normally by now it's all ready and done and dusted and we're running the ballet,
so he's going to have to... during the first rehearsal
block the show and also create six minutes of ballet,
which doesn't sound like much but it's an awful lot
when you're in the production week of the show.
Running out of time.
Wayne decides to split his rehearsals into two studios.
Upstairs, Ros and her team work on the completed choreography and fine tune the dancing.
We're just trying to iron every single eyelash and finger nail before we get on stage.
And I really need to see that one, then I need to see that one,
and then that one and the next one.
And everyone's doing everything they can at the moment to pull it all together
and we only have the rehearsals that we have so, yeah, things are very, er, tense.
Downstairs, Wayne has set himself the task of creating from scratch the missing six minutes.
There's a lot riding on this. It's his first full-length ballet for the company.
It is the biggest money spinner that we have.
It's the Nutcracker, so this show has to be a huge success.
We'll be bringing our funding bodies. The government's coming.
Our sponsors are coming. Our key donors are coming.
So he understands the stakes are very high.
I'm not quite sure how this is going to work.
So the Nutcracker will be here and then it's going to be quite dark here
and then I want Prince to come on with a black thing.
We'll see the Nutcracker sort of walking back like this in the light which will go out.
That's the idea.
'Choreographing is a very kind of lonely sort of thing
'because everybody expects you to have all the answers
'and I guess some choreographers can do that.
'I start with more questions than answers.'
PIANO MUSIC BEGINS
I think it actually needs more scratching time.
'I don't know, you feel that it's not going to work.
'You know, everybody's standing looking at you going,
'"So what happens next?"'
'Yeah, I've had sleepless nights.'
Something, something, something, something, eugh...
If we gave him another three weeks
we'd still be in the situation today.
He leaves things to the last minute. He knows what he's doing. He's accomplished.
I mean, he does seem calm but I bet underneath that he's thinking, "Bloody hell, this better work."
PIANO MUSIC PLAYS
Stop! MUSIC STOPS
Well, you know, the worst feeling in the world is to face a room
full of people looking at you going, "OK, genius, do something," you know.
All right, we can't force it.
Because we've got no time to do this.
I can't force it. It's doing shit.
And they stand there looking at me like I'm...you know.
So what have you got to do?
I've got to do the death of the Mouse King and the...
and I have to do the...
-..just two bits, two more bits.
-Two more bits?
No, we're nearly there. We're nearly there.
The only problem is I have to really look at it and see what needs to be fixed.
If it's not right.
Do you know what I mean?
-If something doesn't look right...
-What, the set, you mean?
No, no, the choreography.
I think we'll have to tweak that next year.
Tweaking is next year. We don't tweak now.
-It can't go on.
-..really in the end they've had enough rehearsal now...
-..all these casts...
-..but they haven't done it on stage.
-..and if I haven't finished,
if I haven't finished the ballet,
it's more important for me to finish the ballet than for them to do a good performance.
Eh?! No way! Excuse me!
-I have to finish the ballet. I can't have...
-You have to finish the ballet
-but what's important...
-If I don't finished the ballet
there's no point in them going because people will go, "Oh, it's not finished."
-I do understand that.
-So if I don't have time to finish,
they have to give up their rehearsal time.
They'll have to do it in their own time.
Do what in their own time? There is no own time.
-They've nowhere to go.
-They'll have to just, you know...
We have to be able to run it otherwise the whole thing's going to look like shit.
-It has to be finished.
-I know it has to be finished...
-That's the prime importance.
-..but both things have to be done.
It has to be finished and they have to be able to do it.
They can't do a new production and not have been on the stage.
Well, it has to be finished, that's priority number one.
Yeah, but we can't spend all day doing it.
Wayne must now hope he can squeeze his missing choreography
into the crucial technical rehearsals at the Coliseum.
So it's even more important that there are no problems with the set and lighting coming from Marden.
Er, very stressed.
And this is the worst snowfall in living memory...
in my living memory. The week before we're just going to the Coliseum,
for this to happen disrupts everything so much. It's a really crucial time.
We'll get it done, though.
It will all be there on the night.
All those changes from Wayne, did you manage to do that?
We don't know yet whether he wants them...
cut or not.
So I've got to do either or.
-You've done both, have you?
-I've got to do both.
The sets have finally made it to the Coliseum
and Wayne is seeing the staging and lighting for the very first time.
So we're seeing it in two dimensions rather than just the design.
It's just when little problems show themselves.
The next few days are the kind of times that we find out what kind of condition we're in.
How's it been so far?
It's only five minutes so far.
We're just trying to work out how they fly.
We'll have the flying balloon that comes in at the end of act one
which all uses the same system
so we're trying to work out how to change it over during the show
to accommodate one giant basket.
It's not our favourite cue.
It's quite stressful when you get things like this involved.
The elaborate flying stunts were an exciting feature of Wayne's original Dutch ballet
and he's determined to bring them to the London stage.
The flying system is also used in the end-of-show finale.
It's been quite a lot of time since we discussed
how the ending was going to be
so I wanted to them to walk off like they're hovering in the air,
because it shouldn't look like Peter Pan.
But we don't have two wires?
I haven't got the right sort of harnesses here to do that. I can get them.
I can't get them tonight. I can get them for tomorrow.
-It's a decision for you guys.
-Let's see what it looks like with two wires.
-Yeah? So two wires tomorrow?
-That looks too much like flying.
Because we fitted this months ago.
We got all the costumes...for each cast is fixed for the one wire.
We tried it and of course it didn't work but, you know, for six months...
nine months ago I said, you know, it really needs a harness, a double harness.
It's kind of disappointing when you get to it and you think, "Was I crazy?
"Did I not say this is what I wanted?"
The more things that are wrong,
the more pressure there is time-wise to get the show to look good.
We'll work it out.
A couple of days to go. Plenty of time.
It's the very first time the technical crew and dancers
have been able to get on stage and practise their scene changes.
Max Westwell is in the wings waiting to rehearse the Mirlitons' dance.
No-one knows the show, no-one knows where to be,
they've got to take stuff off and put stuff on quickly
and they're trying to work out
what they're doing as well and so...oooh.
-OK, just take it to the window.
-Things are flying in.
Can you? Take it to the window,
so you see it, so you come on and go, "Look at that!"
We work out which wings to go on from, after they've done the scene change, if no-one's died.
Yeah, things like that.
I don't see her.
OK, let's stop. Al?
The, er, back.
Did we? I didn't see it. Can we go back to the other scene?
How's it going?
He's still on...what? Ten minutes of the ballet, still.
He just keeps stopping
and always in the same section.
Yeah, hang on a sec. Hang on a sec.
So, children, just come back.
It's very, very, very slow.
-What happens needs to happen.
-This is our second non-run.
Yet to run it. Two days till we're on. Wooh!
OK, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.
Thank you, Kevin. Just go to where you start the dosey doe.
With the cast on stage running late and the four remaining casts yet to rehearse,
all the dancers are fighting for stage time.
No, but this is... Can I have a light?
Sorry, this is my light. No, Carrie...
You won't have the light because they're all breaking now for an hour.
But they could leave a light on.
It's...on your head.
A bit, yeah, because I'm the one who's going to be on stage.
How can I dance something I have never tried?
Now we all feel tense.
Especially the last two days it was very tense with everybody.
I was stressed and we're all trying to get together in knowing what we're doing.
We're trying to make like everything work.
I just hope it goes well.
That's the most scary part. Things don't work.
It could happen.
So is that it? Is that the time over?
Time's over, yeah.
They asked us to leave the stage.
OK, start from the battle with your cast.
-Finish act one and then go to Fernanda's cast, act one.
-Act one again.
Instead of a straight run through each cast will practise act one in turn, then act two.
-We'll try and do more act twos tomorrow afternoon.
The reason all this has changed tonight and tomorrow
is because we only got, in three hours,
-we got through about...what?
-40 minutes of the show.
40 minutes, if that.
-And that's just because...
Scenery, sets. Things not working.
Things not there.
Basically that and of course still we're on, we're on...
I've even forgot what today is. What's today? It's Wednesday,
so we're on Wednesday and we're just about to go into the evening
and still the ballet's not finished. We ain't finished.
-When are you finishing it?
-Ha-ha-ha? Wayne's finishing it. Well, hopefully Wayne will finish it
and I'm hoping he's going to finish it before the opening night.
That would be good.
-Good job we go back a long way, I tell you.
-You'd better hope...
-killing you by now.
Don't talk to me today.
It's not only the dancers who need to run the whole ballet.
The costume and technical departments rely on the full rehearsal
to establish their own cues.
I expect them to know that we have to do a complete run from the beginning.
Er, it's not my call but, yes, I will tell them that.
I need to talk to Jane.
I've been waiting for her to come down. Because it's Wayne's call.
Well, we have to, and I'm not going to budge.
We need to do a complete run.
Because we've got all the dresses here.
We need to start from the beginning.
We can't do that this afternoon.
But we can't do it for the first time tonight.
Because we need to time the changes.
We really, really need to do the changes.
But we've got people here that haven't been on yet.
-Haven't actually been on...
-..in the costumes.
-I know, I do understand.
-Do you know what I mean?
-We have to do this in these two hours.
So Kerry, in your opinion, what are you expecting not to go right?
Um, the balloon. The flying people.
OK, so you're expecting that not to happen?
Um, I'm expecting it to... have to stop.
I've been here almost six years now.
This is my first Christmas season as the Stage Manager.
I want it to come together so I'm trying my damndest to keep my head in amongst it all.
Kerry is unable to rehearse the flying scenes as Wayne is still choreographing on stage.
We've only got a finite amount of time now.
There's certain things we have to do, certain quick changes we have to try
but if the principals don't get on and do some kind of rehearsal,
they're going to refuse to go on so we have to be adaptable.
I've got to find rehearsal in the wing apparently because he needs to finish the choreography.
Get out, show them in and fly out with the King Rat on the bottom.
It just needs the clips to go through.
The flying scene at the end of the ballet remains unfinished as Wayne is unhappy with how it looks.
We still haven't got to the end of the ballet which means that we haven't run act two through yet
so what should be a beautiful performance for the invited audience to see this evening, will not be.
As some of the 800-strong audience have paid for tickets,
there's a pressure for the dress rehearsal to run like opening night.
Press photographers have also been invited.
Maybe they shouldn't have sold tickets for this rehearsal.
Act one seems to be going well
until Wayne's signature flying stunt has technical problems.
The balloon has failed to appear.
Er, you'd better not ask me.
But it's not ready yet. It's not rehearsed.
-Have you seen the balloon?
Have you seen that crappy little Nutcracker doll who you can't even see?
You've just got to think what is there that is really, really good and enjoy it.
-Yeah, but I can't because there's too many, too many things that are not professional enough.
-I know but...
The dancers, it's not fair on them, they haven't had proper rehearsals.
It's not good enough really for the Coliseum opening night.
It's very exciting and you have to think...be positive.
The dancers start act two,
never having run this part of the ballet on stage.
In the wings prima ballerina Daria Klimentova is still trying to learn the lead of Clara.
I have a lot of pressure and, um,
the choreographer was choreographing in the morning and during
and I have to learn in the evening
so I actually don't know the steps yet.
And how hard is that act two?
Act two for me is very hard, it's extremely technical and very long.
I just feel like I'm doing everything myself so I do put extra pressure on myself.
Gavin, can we stop?
Gavin, can we stop?
Daria's fears are well placed.
She's unable to achieve her lift and the performance
comes to a halt.
A few moments later she returns to the stage to dance her solo.
MUSIC: "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" by Tchaikovsky
After the disappointment of last night's dress rehearsal,
the dancers and staff are in early to try and finish off the ballet.
And stab and die.
Well, it's naff.
It's very difficult to be objective about it
when you've spent the best part of the last six, seven weeks
picking holes in it.
It's a fabulous production, it's just we haven't had enough time
to just put in the little finishing touches and just tighten it up set-wise and dancer-wise.
Well, the main problem we have
is that we haven't done the end of the ballet.
We haven't seen the end of the ballet. We haven't set it.
They don't know what to do because they're meant to be flying out of the, er,
they're meant to be flying out of the, er, off the end and they can't.
So we haven't done it.
So we're having to sort of improvise.
Wayne's not happy because he hasn't seen the end of his ballet.
We're all a little bit worried now.
I don't know what's going to happen. It's a bit worrying.
I've never known it like this, actually.
Hello, lovely to meet you. I hope you enjoy it.
This production is the jewel in our crown for English National Ballet,
for a long time. So it's not about one night,
it's about what this one night means
for the future of the company.
Going forward five years, tonight has to be a success.
Going forward ten years, it has to be a success.
People with think back on tonight as a defining moment in the success of the company.
With only 20 minutes to go until curtain up,
there are last-minute changes to be made on the Mirlitons' dance.
When Wayne was doing a bit the other day, he said you'll just have to improvise.
Give them your hand, that's it...
And it's all hands on deck to finish the end of the ballet.
-Here's the start of it. Then the children appear.
-Yeah, they come out of the door.
The kids go, "Oh, you're going bye-bye, bye."
They walk back here, they do a little bit, they open the door, they look back...
Everyone comes tonight. Tonight we have the critics,
we have the Arts Council, our major donors, our sponsors,
our board members, our key supporters -
all come on the same night.
It's, as I said to you earlier in the week, it's terrifying because
we only have such a short time to get this show together.
That was the press and a donor, together. That's a worry.
If I sit here they can't hear me scream.
Oh, God. Here we go.
It's a bit too late to do anything so... But do the best we can.
So, you know, it was always inevitable that it was going to be like this.
Cross your fingers, darling.
You've been there the whole ride.
You've seen it from the start as well.
MUSIC: "The Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky
(It's going really, really well and everyone's, this company is so fab.
(They've just pulled everything together.
It's so beautiful and so magical.
I'm really delighted with it. The end result.
It's like everything you'd hoped for and beyond.
There's so much going for it.
I think Wayne is in that space where you see the things that are niggling you and that's all you can focus on.
It's a bit of a fog you feel in and you feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
WAYNE: It looks like a basket on a stick.
For a second time the hot air balloon that is attached to the basket has not appeared.
Where's the balloon, Al?
-Where's the balloon?
-Yeah, I know.
That's what I just said.
-It looks like a basket on two sticks.
Shall we cut the basket or what should we do?
I was promised the balloon was going to work. It's not a basket on four wires.
It's because we had the different orders.
There's always an excuse, you know.
That's a reason, Wayne, it's not an excuse. It's a reason, honestly.
It's not your fault, but we need to rehearse these things.
I've never seen it rehearsed properly. Not your fault because of no time
but it's got to be organised,
the balloon has to look...and I've taken it, I've taken it on trust.
I go, "The balloon?"
And I get, "It'll be OK."
But it's never OK and I'm tired of trusting people going, "It'll be fine."
It doesn't look like a balloon, it looks like a basket on four wires and people think that's my idea.
It doesn't say, "Kerry, Kerry produced a shit idea."
You'll survive this.
I don't survive bad reviews.
-I'm really sorry.
-My choreography's at stake.
It doesn't go, "L Riches is responsible for this."
It says, "Wayne Eagling is responsible", and I can't accept that.
-I will do everything I feasibly can, Wayne, to make it the best show that I can.
-I don't blame you at all.
Act two begins.
Ksenia is waiting to perform her Mirlitons' dance.
I'm not thinking about how I feel.
I'm just getting ready.
I'm concentrating on not thinking because it's just the way it works for me.
MUSIC: "Dance Of The Mirlitons" by Tchaikovsky
Of course there is pressure and everything but...
I just don't think about it.
Great performances. Very, very well done. Very pleased.
It's so hard to describe.
I mean, it's the hardest pas de deux I've ever seen.
Well, I'm exhausted. I'm glad it's over.
I'm probably a bit punch drunk. It's such a big...it's a big moment
but, um, it was good, the reaction was very positive,
the audience were thrilled,
the dancers looked wonderful.
Um, I'm just very glad it's over.
For me a balloon is not a basket on strings.
It's my thing that everything has to be perfect,
to be perfect, otherwise it's not there.
Thank you very much. Very professional. Very good.
I'm thrilled if other people like it but it's not going to make me happy...
..if it's not what I was expecting. Yeah?
Wayne's production has become the most successful Nutcracker
in living memory.
Just five months after the birth of her son,
Fernanda successfully performed the lead role of Clara
the following night.
It was a faultless production.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.
Email [email protected]
The final episode offers a raw and revealing insight into English National Ballet, one of the world's premier ballet companies, at the climax of one of its most demanding years. From injury and pain to success and elation, the series exposes the storm behind the calm of big ballet productions.
Wayne Eagling has a highly demanding job as the artistic director of English National Ballet, looking after the 64 dancers that produce eight ballets a year. He has also decided to put his neck on the line by creating his first full length ballet for the company - The Nutcracker. As the company's crucial and lucrative Christmas production, there is no room for error and Wayne must complete the two hour ballet on an extremely tight schedule.
The film follows the creative processes of a choreographer under pressure and a new production fighting against time. With an important audience of critics, donors and government officials expected on opening night, the show must be finished. But with rehearsals running late and severe snow disrupting the making of the sets, it seems the dancers, costume-makers and technical staff are all fighting for stage time right up until the curtain rises.