Hong Kong Ballet Pirouettes Its Way Into the Metaverse This Christmas

Hong Kong Ballet Pirouettes Its Way Into the Metaverse This Christmas

In addition to giving ‘The Nutcracker,’ a classic Christmas ballet with a history of yellowface, a much-needed facelift, the Hong Kong Ballet has released NFT tickets with interactive artwork

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Sammi Sowerby RADII Tatler
2:20 PM HKT, Mon November 21, 2022 1 mins read

As much a Christmas classic as Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life and Mariah Carey’s 1994 earworm ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’ The Nutcracker ballet is a visual masterpiece featuring toys that come to life, gingerbread soldiers, a Sugar Plum Fairy, and... racist depictions of Chinese dancers, complete with yellowface, Fu Manchu mustaches, and subservient ‘kowtow’ steps.

Better late than never, dance companies the world over, including the Hong Kong Ballet, have begun liberating The Nutcracker (胡桃夾子) from its original plot and problematic facets.

hong kong ballet sun wukong

Jeremy Chan in the Hong Kong Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Photo by Tony Luk

A free-wheeling tour de force, artistic director Septime Webre’s version of the ballet is just as — if not more — colorful, with elements of wuxia, localized settings, and new yet familiar characters, like the mischievous Monkey King of Chinese folklore, Sun Wukong.

Plus, the best bits, like the epic battle scene between the titular Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King, get to stay.

hong kong ballet the nutcracker christmas

The family-friendly production, which will run at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre’s Grand Theatre through December, is also a love letter to Hong Kong. Take, for instance, the production’s set design, which is inspired by the city’s storied architecture.

Act one, scene one of the ballet opens at protagonist Clara Stahlbaum’s family home on Christmas Eve, and in Septime Webre’s version, the grand house takes a page from Hong Kong’s iconic Kom Tong Hall, which was declared a monument in 2010. Architecture and history lovers may also recognize a reference to the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower, which has withstood the ravages of World War II.

Hong Kong Ballet Nutcracker set design

A side-by-side look at the Hong Kong Ballet’s set design for the Stahlbaum family’s home in The Nutcracker and Kom Tong Hall, which was constructed during the Edwardian era of British colonial rule. Photos via the company and Gwulo.com

Some watch The Nutcracker with religious fervor every holiday season, but imagine accessing photographic memories of the Christmas extravaganza in the metaverse year-round — the Hong Kong Ballet’s NFT tickets turn this fantasy into a reality.

First unveiled at the Digital Art Fair Xperience Hong Kong 2022 from October 22 until November 6 but still available online, the NFT tickets feature interactive artwork of four main characters — Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, the Candy Ribbon Ballerina, and the Rat King — and stage photos.

Furthermore, ownership of each NFT ticket includes two VIP seats to a live performance of the ballet, The Nutcracker pins, and passes to a meet-and-greet session with the stars of the Hong Kong Ballet.

Get your tickets (regular or NFTs) to see the Hong Kong Ballet in ‘The Nutcracker’ on December 16-18, 21-26, and 28-31

Cover image of Henry Seldon and Leung Chunlong in the Hong Kong Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ by Bobyeah

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