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Press Release: Nutcracking with Freefall - Animated short film released by Birmingham Royal Ballet's Freefall Company

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18 December 2020






To coincide with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s live stream of The Nutcracker at The REP this evening, Friday 18 December, its 2nd Company Freefall premieres a specially commissioned, animated telling of the story for everyone to enjoy.


Nutcracking with Freefall is available to watch HERE


Following the announcement that this year’s newly adapted version of The Nutcracker at The REP will be live streamed, Birmingham Royal Ballet continues to find creative ways of keeping audiences entertained this Christmas with the release of Carlos Acosta’s digital commission for 2nd Company, Freefall: Nutcracking with Freefall.


Freefall is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s second company, made up of ten highly gifted dancers with severe learning disabilities. Freefall Dance Company has been creating and performing daring, ground-breaking and award-winning dance that combines the dancers’ exceptional talents and individual styles for over fifteen years


Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet Carlos Acosta said ‘We look forward to welcoming our audiences to the online experience of The Nutcracker at The REP this Christmas but we have another special surprise for everyone with this wonderful animated version of the story from Freefall which is available to watch online free now. It is very important to me that their achievement in making this delightful piece gets the recognition it deserves and I know families in particular will enjoy it.’




2020 has been particularly tough for the Freefall dancers who are in the highest risk group for Covid. Whilst the company hasn’t been able to attend their weekly classes in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s studio they have continued to meet and train online.


This Christmas, Freefall’s Artistic director Lee Fisher has taken a highly imaginative approach to creating this new film, casting all ten dancers in a very special animated version of the Nutcracker story, drawn by artist Andy Baker, that everyone can enjoy.


The process began by recalling the story, favourite moments and characters; using Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production images, music and choreographic motifs as starting points. These led to improvisations which Free-frames from which were sketched by Andy Baker. The dancers also shared images and video clips of themselves dancing at home via WhatsApp so there was a lot of material to draw from.


Lee Fisher, Artistic Director of Freefall Dance Company and Birmingham Royal Ballet Head of Creative Learning  said: ‘Many of the ‘Freefallers’ have grown up with an annual Christmas trip to see BRB's Nutcracker and this autumn we've had loads of fun workshopping the characters, their gestures and movements at our weekly zoom sessions.  It’s been amazing to see Freefall's responses brought to life so skilfully and beautifully.   Nutcracking with Freefall is Freefall's contribution to the 30th anniversary of a production that means so much to us all.’





Nutcracking with Freefall watch here


Tara Bishop - Mother / Spanish Dancer

Tom Bright - Prince

Chris Brookes - Drosselmeyer

Hannah Clarke - Clara

Nicky Hodges - Nutcracker Doll / Russian Dancer

Shaun Hodges - Father / Russian Dancer

Barry Kirby - King Rat

Julia Nicholls - Maid / Candy Cain

Chris Treadwell - Jack-in-a-Box / Chinese Dancer



Richard Syner



Lily Fish



Andy Baker



Nate Bedford

Kimberley Collings



Lee Fisher



Yvette Knight

Faye O'Connor

Ian Clapham



Senior Design Executive



Birmingham Royal Ballet

Based at Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet is the United Kingdom’s leading touring ballet company performing a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim of encouraging choreographers of the future.


The company’s Director from January 2020 is the internationally renowned Carlos Acosta.


Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for approximately ten weeks of the year and the remainder of the year tours throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. On average, the company performs 175 shows a year nationally and internationally.


The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s permanent orchestra, it is also Britain's busiest ballet orchestra. The Sinfonia also plays frequently for The Royal Ballet and other leading ballet companies, including performances with: The Royal Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Kirov, Norwegian Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and La Scala Ballet.

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