Can a king also be a prince? Apparently so, as former Canberran Alain Juelg will be alternating as both in Storytime Ballet: The Nutcracker, which opens on January 16.
Juelg, 19, will alternate as the Prince and the Mouse King in this narrated, condensed production of the Australian Ballet's production of the Tchaikovsky ballet. When playing the Mouse King he will also appear in two other roles.
The production has choreography by Marius Petipa and additional choreography by David McAllister.
The Nutcracker begins at a Christmas party. The toymaker and magician Drosselmeyer arrives bearing gifts for the children, including a wooden nutcracker for his goddaughter Clara.
That night, Clara sees the nutcracker grow to human size, the start of a magical adventure.
Juelg is excited to be on his first tour with the Australian Ballet after graduating from the Australian Ballet School, where he studied for four years in Melbourne from the age of 15.
"I was born in Cairns and we moved around a lot when I was younger," Juelg says.
"My father was a pilot with Ansett."
When Juelg was two, the family moved to Canberra where his father worked for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and his mother started Canberra Festival Ballet. Juelg began taking part in classes with her at the age of three and says it was a fun thing to do - and she could look after him while she worked.
He says he has always liked the scenery of Canberra - "It's a very pretty place to live with all the trees and wildlife everywhere".
A couple of years ago, he came to Canberra to perform with other students in a School September Showcase. But he still has family here and comes to visit them.
The family moved to Melbourne several years later and he kept up with ballet, attending after-school classes at the Australian Ballet School from the age of 11 and giving up other pursuits such as gymnastics to focus on his favourite, dance.
"It made me feel both emotionally and physically free," he says, "and it was physically challenging enough to keep me engaged.
"I'd see people doing all these incredibly hard things and want to mimic that."
He was accepted into the Australian Ballet School in 2015 when he was 15 and a highlight was performing in works by Stephen Baynes, resident choreographer at the Australian Ballet.
Juelg says, "The most challenging thing for me is conquering nerves and being able to perform what I'm capable of."
He says he has struggled with "putting too much pressure on myself and psyching myself out", but his teachers were very helpful in encouraging him and building up his confidence.
"I'm getting a lot better with it," he says.
Performing multiple shows a day on tour has also helped him conquer his fear of going on the stage - and of making a mistake while performing,
"I realised it's not the end of the world - I can improve in the next performance."
Seven of the 11 performers chosen for the tour - four women and three men - graduated with Juelg last year. In the final weeks of the 2019 semester, they were rehearsing Nutcracker as well as other pieces for their final presentations.
Juelg says the Prince is the most demanding role of his four. It contains two solos and a pas de deux with Clara.
Because of venue and scheduling issues, the tour began on December 12, 2019 in Melbourne and kept going after Christmas. It will end in Adelaide on January 24.
As for the future: Juelg hopes to become a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet - "That would be excellent, that would be unreal" - and, for now at least, would like to keep dancing for as long as possible rather than branching out into choreography.
And, he says, "I'm interested in going overseas at some stage and seeing what's there."
Juelg says he enjoys the classic ballets including those that have very masculine, virtuosic styles of dancing such as La Bayadere. He says his height - nearly 188 centimetres - and long limbs make it a challenge for him to move as quickly as he would like. Perhaps it's something else to conquer.
Storytime Ballet: The Nutcracker is on at the Playhouse from January 16 to 18. For children three and older. Bookings: canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 62752700.