Lauren Cuthbertson as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Photo by Tristram Kenton courtesy of The Royal Opera House.

Sugar Plum Prep: Watch The Royal Ballet’s Lauren Cuthbertson

What goes into becoming the Sugar Plum Fairy? This Nutcracker season, The Guardian went behind the scenes at The Royal Ballet to find out, zooming in on principal dancer Lauren Cuthbertson as she prepares for the iconic role.

The video opens with Cuthbertson walking down a gray London street and through the Opera House doors for morning warm up. Although it includes the rehearsal footage you might expect, shot in luscious slow motion, the video also reveals some rituals and quirks you might not. “Toe caps" appears to be the British term for toe pads, I learned. I also had no idea what went into achieving the frosted look of the dancers' hair. (Hint: a can of spray paint, not confection—and lots of glitter!)


Most interesting, however, is Cuthbertson's narration. She says that her pre-performance nerves start to build weeks in advance and, as a principal dancer, it can be lonely at the top. However, the intensity and challenges, grueling as they can be, are necessary: She says the pressure is the driving force of a ballerina's career. As Cuthbertson emerges from her dressing room in a gorgeous tutu, she heads to the wings with a smile fit for the Kingdom of Sweets.

Screenings of The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker begin in select theaters this Wednesday, December 16. To see if it's playing in your area, visit the The Royal Opera House's website: http://www.roh.org.uk/cinemas.

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