Q&A with 'The Nutcracker' Choreographer Edmund Stripe


Popular Holiday Show Is Coming to Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre Dec. 29–Jan. 1

For those who know Canadian ballet, Edmund Stripe’s name might ring a bell. He’s an award-winning choreographer, who has spent the past nine years with the Alberta Ballet and has more than 30 major works to his credit, from “Unquiet Light” to “Swelter” to “Alice in Wonderland.” But each Christmas season, he takes on the timeless holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.”

Stripe is the choreographer of the 2010 Vancouver premiere of “The Nutcracker,” which will be performed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Dec. 29–Jan. 1. Here, he offers insight into his favourite holiday show and what it takes to bring it to Vancouver.


Q: In terms of holiday performances that you've performed in or choreographed, how does “The Nutcracker” rank?

Edmond Stripe: Nearly all the performances I’ve been involved with at Christmastime have been of “The Nutcracker.” This was true even when I worked in Britain, Australia and Singapore. So I guess it ranks No.1.


Q: What makes “The Nutcracker” such a timeless holiday show?

ES: “The Nutcracker,” especially in North America, has become as much a part of the holiday tradition as turkey and mince pies. It’s something a lot of people have to do —otherwise it just isn’t Christmas. Plus, a lot of the beautiful music is instantly recognizable by most people, even those who have not seen the ballet before.


Q: What challenges come with choreographing a ballet that has been performed so many times before?

ES: Like any new production of this classic ballet, the audience has expectations of what “The Nutcracker” should look like. One of my challenges was to create a production along the lines of what most people perceive as a traditional “Nutcracker” ballet but being original enough in choreography to stay faithful to my vision of the ballet.


Q: What is it like to bring this show to Vancouver?

ES: A big job! Three huge trucks will transport the sets and costumes to Vancouver. There are 80 children, auditioned in July, that have to be taught steps, rehearse and then finally integrate with the company members at our final stage rehearsals. There are 34 dancers and 10 crew who will fly out just after Christmas, and we will have just one dress rehearsal to incorporate all the separate elements of the show before opening night. It’s all worth it.


Q: What’s it like working with the Vancouver Symphony?

ES: My experiences working on previous productions of “The Nutcracker” with the Vancouver Symphony have been wonderful. I can’t wait to hear them perform again for my production.


Q: Can we expect any new twists in this year's “Nutcracker?”

ES:Expect the opulence and grandeur of Zack Brown’s beautiful sets and costumes, inspired by turn-of-the-century imperial Russia, arctic wolves, snow tsarinas and sugar-plum fairies. Oh, and there’s a “Nutcracker” in there somewhere, too!


Q: Give us a reason someone who has seen “The Nutcracker” a zillion times should attend again this year....

ES: You haven’t seen this one!

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