How English National Ballet gets round Covid lockdown with Nutcracker Delights

English National Ballet Nutcracker Delights at Coliseum Theatre, London on December 17 2020. Photo:

You can see Rebecca Blenkinsop in English National Ballet's Nutcracker Delights online from Christmas Eve for 30 days. - Credit: Amber Hunt

Theatregoers who booked to see The Nutcracker in the West End with dancers from English National Ballet’s east London studios are being contacted for refunds caused by the latest Covid emergency which has shut all public performances. 

The two-week run was due to open on December 17 at the London Coliseum but has had to be scrapped because of Tier 4 restrictions. 

English National Ballet Nutcracker Delights at Coliseum Theatre, London on December 17 2020. Photo:

Erina Takahashi as Sugar Plum Fairy and Joseph Caley as Prince in English National's Nutcracker Delights - Credit: Amber Hunt

Instead, the company, based at its new London City Island complex near Canary Wharf, are giving the public a free performance of Nutcracker Delights selection on social media from Christmas Eve on Thursday. 

It was recorded to go on YouTube and Facebook on December 24 for 30 days. 

The company filmed the production on December 18 at the Coliseum with orchestra and live audience before the latest lockdown as a public thank you at the close of its 70th anniversary year. 

English National Ballet Nutcracker Delights at Coliseum Theatre, London on December 17 2020. Photo:

Nutcracker Delights was filmed live at London Coliseum. - Credit: Amber Hunt


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It has been a fraught year after moving into the new centre from the ballet company’s cramped former rehearsal rooms in Kensington. 

English National was hit by the pandemic only six months into its first year in east London when theatres were closed and had to furlough most of its dancers and staff. 

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It made a comeback last month with a £3million lifeline from Whitehall after restrictions lifted — but has been struck again by the latest Tier 4 emergency. 

“We were devastated having to cancel scheduled shows at the Coliseum just a few days before opening,” artistic director Tamara Rojo explained. 

“We’ve performed The Nutcracker every season in our 70 years and were determined Christmas 2020 should be no different.  

“This shows the capacity of the arts to respond to challenges with resolve, despite the circumstances.” 

English National Ballet Nutcracker Delights at Coliseum Theatre, London on December 17 2020. Photo:

More Nutcracker Delights... English National Ballet's performance at the Coliseum goes online free from December 24 for 30 days - Credit: Amber Hunt

Nutcracker Delights is adapted from the Christmas classic’s most popular moments, with Tchaikovsky’s score performed by musicians from English National Ballet Philharmonic.  

The recording includes the debut by Natascha Mair in the role of Clara, alongside Erina Takahashi as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Joseph Caley as the Prince and Aitor Arrieta as Nutcracker. 

London Coliseum is contacting ticket holders who had been booked for December 17 to January 3 to arrange refunds or credit vouchers for next year’s full-length Nutcracker

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