Royal Ballet Soloist Nicol Edmonds makes his début as the Prince in The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker this Tuesday 27th December. Here he discusses the challenges of preparing for the role and what it was like to be coached by Strictly Come Dancing judge and former Royal Ballet Principal Darcey Bussell.
What were your first thoughts when you found out you would be debuting as the Prince this season?
I was extremely pleased when I found out I would dance the Prince this year. I really wasn’t sure if it was going to happen so it was lovely to find out it was.
Why are you looking forward to performing the role?
It’s such a special and iconic role for a ballet dancer (male or female) so everyone dreams of having the opportunity. I’m simply looking forward to dancing it to the best of my ability and enjoying it. If I’m happy I hope the audience will be too.
How do you hope to make your Prince stand out among the others? What do you hope to bring to the role?
I think I’m going to try and be an honest, kind and open Prince. I want the audience to warm to me and find my presence on stage comforting.
What makes The Nutcracker special for you?
It’s a beautiful ballet with exceptional music that comes every year at a wonderful time. How can you not find that special?
How long did it take for you to learn the initial choreography and what were some challenges it posed?
I think most dancers already know the choreography because they’ve seen it so many times before. So you never really have to learn it. I found some of the partnering in the pas de deux challenging to start with because of all the weight changes. The ballerina is often in an open position on one leg (in a passé in a backbend) and then very quickly you have to get her back into fifth position, on both her legs in one count. Some of the technically harder steps I found easier funnily enough. Practice makes perfect, though, and it’s all feel rather comfortable now.
Who is your partner for the role? Why is it important to develop a rapport offstage with them?
Beatriz Stix-Brunell is my partner for The Nutcracker. Chemistry is everything on stage. It can make or break a performance. So having a good rapport with you partner is hugely important. Me and Bea get on so well. She has me laughing all the time, sometimes half way through the pas de deux. Hopefully not in the show though….
Who have been your coaches for the role and have you had any memorable moments?
I’ve been lucky enough to have Darcey Bussell and Christopher Saunders. To be honest all the rehearsals have been so great. Darcey is such an icon, so I try to take as much as I can from everything that she says.
I still get a little starry-eyed sometimes – she’s just so fabulous! And Christopher’s attention to partnering is so great. He always knows what you’ve got to do to partner the girl correctly so I’ve learnt so much from him.
What is your favourite part of the role’s choreography and why?
I love chucking Beatriz in the air in the pas de chat and then partnering her pirouettes. In that section the music builds so much that you get such a rush.
What brand of shoes do you wear and do you do anything to them to prepare them for a performance?
I wear Sansha shoes and I do absolutely nothing to them. The only thing I need is to have worn them a few times before so they move easily with my feet.
What should audiences look out for in particular when they come to see The Nutcracker?
I think audiences should sit back and just enjoy the show as a whole.
What are your ‘words to live by’?
I would say acceptance is key to happiness and success. The happier you are with yourself, the easier life becomes. So make sure you’re good to you.
Blue (but yellow really)
Oh god, I love it all. Everything from roast chicken to oysters!
Bridget Jones Diary (little bit embarrassing)
Dogs. Probably Labradors. But also dachshunds and toy poodles.
[Featured image: Nicol Edmonds in rehearsal for Tetractys – The Art of Fugue, The Royal Ballet ©ROH/Johan Persson, 2014]