There are many ways to welcome in the festive season; but none are so heartwarming as seeing a world class performance of The Nutcracker, especially when it's performed by The Birmingham Royal Ballet.
My sisters and I, on a celebratory Shoes by Shaherazad night out, were lucky enough to see Sir Peter Wright's production at the Hippodrome this week. And much to our delight, it was a visual delight which we enjoyed from the comfort of a sumptuous royal red box in the Circle.
It was a very special night for me as my heels are modelled on the concept of poise, grace and elegance. I believe that no woman should be in pain if she chooses to wear heels and so seeing the graceful ballet dancers in action (although of course they weren't wearing heels as they danced!) has inspired a new style which we will be launching in the summer next year.
My sisters and I watched Clara as she was swept in to an enchanting festive wonderland of dancing snowflakes, animals, toy soldiers and, of course, the unforgettable Sugar Plum Fairy. This performance is most certainly a visual delight due to its lavish sets, intricate costumes, 60 dancers and a full orchestra of talented musicians. I have seen this ballet five times before, and yet each time I am completely enchanted by a new element. For me, this year, it had to be the solo dance by the Sugar Plum Fairy herself.
Another absolutely magical moment was when a flying goose with shimmering feathers transports Clara to a magical land. The scene is so spectacular that I don't believe it is possible for anyone to blink even once throughout it, lest they miss a millisecond of the enchanting and graceful journey. It is this moment that I have based my ballet inspired shoellery on for summer 2018. And our laugh out loud moment was the first sighting we had of the Jack in the Box, or rather, the Jack out of the Box which somehow tickles you deep in your tummy.
If you're not familiar with the story, it's when a Nutcracker comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks Clara, the protagonist, away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. The origin of the Nutcracker is a fairy tale ballet in two acts centred on a family's Christmas Eve celebration.
Here are 10 spectacular facts you might not know about The Nutcracker and the ballet in general:
(1) Every time a dancer jumps on pointe, three times her body weight is carried on the tip of her big toe.
(2) Dancers rub rosin on their pointes and flats to prevent slipping. It is a yellow crystal substance that cellists, bassists, and violinists rub on their bows to help them play better.
(3) The five basic foot positions were devised in the 18th century by Pierre Beauchamps, ballet master to King Louis XIV of France. He created the positions so that a dancer's weight would be evenly distributed over her feet for any position of the body. A principal similar to that applied to the technology in our 18 Hour Heels!
(4) The Birmingham Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker has over 200 costumes.
(5) Around 500 hairpins are used per show!
(6) The Nutcracker features a festive transformation where a Christmas tree grows from 4m to 15m and a fireplace grows to fill half of the stage.
(7) Over 45 wigs and pieces of facial hair are featured in this year's production at The Hippodrome.
(8) Between us, the Shoes by Shaherazad team have seen The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome a total of 18 times! It's no surprise as we can't get enough of the poise, grace and elegance of the dancers.
(9) Nutcracker dolls, also known as Christmas nutcrackers, are decorative figurines most commonly made to resemble a toy soldier. In German tradition, the dolls are symbols of good luck, scaring away bad spirits. And yes, you can crack nuts with them too.
(10) Team Shoes by Shaherazad would love to see one of the ballerinas do a twirl in a pair of our coveted 18 Hour Heels. Ballerinas, if you're reading this, please do get in touch.
The box experience isn't for everyone as it gives a restricted view. However, it's always our favourite way of enjoying the performance as there is added magic in the privacy and mysticism of a private seating area.
Shoe Empowerment Officer