Some of the biggest effects in the ballet are actually the most straight forward. One of the most popular is the opening of Act II, where Clara crosses the stage on a flying goose above a cloud of dry ice. While the technology is very simple, Diana reveals that the timing requires a great deal of attention.
'The dancer gets in at the bottom right down on the floor during the interval, and I send her up,' she explains. 'It takes time to strap her in and get her up there and lay all the dry ice underneath her and I've had complaints where the audience has all been in and ready and they've just sat there for five minutes while we’re still setting up. But also I have to be aware of how nervous the ballerina is who's performing the role. Some of them really don't mind, and I can send them up there and they're happy to wait, but some of them get really scared up there, so I send them up at the last possible second so they’re not up there any longer than they need to be.'
'Luckily I've been doing this ballet for quite a long time now, so I've become quite a good judge of when people are nearly ready and I know when the audience are nearly in.'
With the ballet being performed by the Company most Christmases since its creation in 1990, Diana has had plenty of time to hone her judgement. 'I was involved from the first day of the first rehearsal, and I've done every single performance we've done', she states. 'I'd have to check my records for an exact number but it's way over 300.'
The unfortunate by-product of this is that Diana has never seen Birmingham Royal Ballet perform the piece, her only chance to see the production coming when it was performed by a Japanese Company. Through no fault of the Company in question, her experience was not as enjoyable as you might expect.
'We lent [The Nutcracker] to a company in Japan that liked Sir Peter's work very much,' She remembers. 'A handful of us were sent over to teach them how to run it, and once it was finished and on, I watched it and it was the first time I'd seen it. But throughout the whole performance I was thinking about the stage directions and thinking about what should be happening. Because I know the score so well, I just hear my cues and think 'Fly cue one', and 'go', and you can feel yourself wanting to say these instructions. I tried really hard to watch my friends dancing the piece, and to enjoy it, and even went to watch it a second time, but still found myself watching the scenery!'