A new Nutcracker as English National Ballet’s 75th season is announced

Headlining English National Ballet’s 2024-25 season is a welcome new production of Nutcracker that will premiere at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre (November 28-30, 2024) before an extended run at the London Coliseum (December 12-January 12, 2025). Choreography is by artistic director Aaron S. Watkin and Arielle Smith. There is little other detail as yet, apart from the fact in starts in Edwardian London before journeying to the Land of Sweets & Delights.

Sets are by Dick Bird, best know among British ballet audiences for his designs for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin. Other notable credits include Hamlet at the Comédie-Française, La Donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House, La Bayadère for K-Ballet Tokyo and The Pearl Fishers for The Metropolitan Opera in New York and English National Opera.

Lighting designer is Paul Pyant, whose other work includes Northern Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet, and three versions of The Snow Queen, for English National Ballet, the Vienna State Ballet and the Czech State Ballet, plus many West End productions.

Watkin says, “Nutcracker holds a special place in English National Ballet’s history and in the hearts of our audiences. The company has performed a version of it every year since it was founded in 1950 and it is an honour to be working with Arielle and Dick, to bring new magic and wonder to this much-loved ballet.”

English National Ballet in Playlist EP
Photo Laurent Liotardo

A second world premiere comes in Spring 2025 with a new William Forsythe creation as part of The Forsythe Programme at Sadler’s Wells (April 10-19, 2025). The new work sees the choreographer take inspiration from the ‘Theme and Variations’ 2nd movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 C major. Completing the evening is the return of Playlist (EP) and New Suite, an arrangement of eight earlier pas de deux set to scores by Händel, Berio and Bach

Elsewhere, audiences get he chance to revisit the company’s two versions of Giselle, by Akram Khan and Mary Skeaping. Having been seen by over 156,000 people in 10 countries and 16 cities around the world, Khan’s Giselle opens the 2024-25 Season with a return to London’s Sadler’s Wells (September 18-28, 2024) for the first time since 2019. Skeaping’s Giselle tours to the Liverpool Empire (October 23-26) and Manchester Palace Theatre (October 30-November 2), before returning to the London Coliseum (January 15-18, 2025).

Daniel McCormick and Ivana Bueno in the Peasant pas de deux in Mary Skeaping’s Giselle
Photo Laurent Liotardo

For younger audiences, English National Ballet and English National Ballet School revive My First Ballet: Swan Lake at the Peacock Theatre (April 17-26, 2025). Featuring choreography by Antonio Castilla, English National Ballet’s Repetiteur, and with a narrator to guide the audience, the production is aimed at children aged three upwards.

In summer 2025, English National Ballet continues its investment in emerging talent programmes with the launch of Choreo Labs, described as a “supportive and inspiring environment for company dancers to develop their skills and explore new choreographic ideas.” Open to dancers across the company, the series will culminate with an in-house sharing session.

Turning to digital, and the company is marking its 75th Season with a free, 10-day digital celebration to be presented in June 2025. Showcasing the company’s past, present and future, ENB@75 will feature performance excerpts filmed especially in the company’s in-house Holloway Production Studio as well as interviews, archive footage and exclusive behind-the-scenes insight.

Looking at the season as a whole, Watkin says, “In this, English National Ballet’s 75th Season, we will be celebrating the myriad ways that ballet can excite, entertain, and inspire. Be it the renewal of a beloved classic with our new Nutcracker, cherished revivals, or a return to the ground-breaking works of Akram Khan and William Forsythe – this is a season that showcases the many wonderful things that ballet can offer.

“I am thrilled that English National Ballet continues to attract world-class creative talent. I can’t wait to have Arielle Smith and William Forsythe back in our studios to create work and I know our dancers will be inspired by their presence.

Finally, its hugely important to me that we welcome as many people as possible to celebrate our 75th Season with us. I am therefore delighted that we will be presenting a free digital celebration that will enable us to connect with ballet fans and new audiences alike, all around the world.”