Newly-Formed Rubicon Dance Company Premieres Debut Newport Nutcracker Production

25 Nov 2021

Photo credits: Sian Trenberth

Rehearsals are underway for a brand-new and uniquely Welsh version of The Nutcracker in Newport, which will see the family-favourite transplanted into a very different, Welsh family Christmas. Featuring music by jazz composer, Duke Ellington, newly formed Rubicon Dance Company has chosen The Riverfront Theatre, Newport, to premiere its first full-length production on Friday 10 December, choreographed by award-winning Jamiel Laurence.

Rubicon Dance Company is a brand-new professional dance company, created by social arts organisation, Rubicon Dance, in direct response to the crushing effect of the pandemic on talented dancers from Wales, all now graduating into an arts sector blighted by the impact of COVID-19. Seven of the eight professional dancers – now company members – undertook full-time pre-vocational training at Rubicon Dance.

Kathryn Williams, Director of Rubicon Dance, says: “Wales produces amazing professional dancers, but they seldom have the opportunity to join dance companies based in Wales, and the pandemic has only served to amplify this long-standing inequity. We couldn’t stand by and lose a generation of Welsh talent, and so we created Rubicon Dance Company. We are immensely proud of all our new company members – each one demonstrating how ordinary young people from the communities of Wales can achieve their dreams and dance with the athleticism of superheroes.

Dubbed the #NewportNutcracker, this re-telling of The Nutcracker is seen through the eyes of lead protagonist, Carys Williams. With a running time of an hour and 20 minutes the #NewportNutcracker re-imagines the traditional Mari Lwyd Welsh Folk character in Carys’ coming-of-age dream. This uplifting version of The Nutcracker explores themes of redemption and transformation with charm, humour and exhilarating dance.  In this production we meet the extended Williams household including Bopa Linda and Bopa Sheila, danced by members of Rubicon’s over 60s dance group, NuWave, based at The Riverfront, who playfully insist that Dadcu dances with them.  The production also features some of Rubicon’s current full-time students and members of Rubicon’s community programme.

Jamiel Laurence, choreographer of The Nutcracker, and Rubicon Dance Company’s brand-new Creative Director says: “Rubicon Dance Company is challenging the status quo by providing paid opportunities in Wales for graduates who, after years of training, still lack access to dance jobs. With Rubicon acting as a force for positive change in Wales, I was drawn to create a new style of Nutcracker in a contemporary modern ballet format. Working with the traditional score and introducing Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite I’ve used some of the traditional tale’s elements whilst doing something different and distinctly Welsh with the story. Rubicon Dance Company’s full-length debut is fun and engaging and invites audiences to spend time with their local theatres over Christmas.

Professional dancer and one of the company’s founding members Rebecca Long, says: “This is where it all began! My Rubicon journey started right here at the Riverfront, as part of the Rubicon Dance youth group, before going on to Rubicon’s full-time course. This year, I graduated with a first in dance from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London and I was concerned about my future, with COVID-19 having such a huge impact on the sector. So, I’m thrilled to now be home, playing ‘Carys’ in the very first production of the Rubicon Dance Company. It is really very special.

The production, which includes eight of Wales’ most exciting professional dancers, also celebrates queer culture through the eyes of young Fysal, Carys’ brother.