Scottish Ballet will this year keep its festive audiences on their toes with a ground-breaking gender-switching version of the Christmas classic Cinderella.

In a world first, the protagonist will be performed by a male dancer for some performances and a female dancer for others - with the audience not informed in advance.

It is an additional twist to the ballet, which will also feature a new name - Cinders - and a new design with the backdrop being a draper's store.

Scottish Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Christopher Hampson said: "I’m delighted to be bringing this fresh approach to such a well-known fairytale.

"I have always believed Prokofiev essentially composed a love story, yet full of wit and humour, which underpins this new production.

"I’m enjoying the playfulness of searching for who guides the narrative and who drives the dream.

"Collaborating with Elin Steele and the ever-adventurous dancers, we are coming together to deliver a classic Cinders for today."

Theatre is renowned for breaking with tradition and this version of the classical ballet aims to do just that.

Scotland's national company has become well known for its annual Christmas extravaganza with Mr Hampson pushing the boundaries of the genre each year.

In Cinders on some nights the lead character of Cinders will be a woman, swept off her feet by her Prince, and on others, Cinders will be a man, swept off his feet by his Princess.

Audiences will discover which Cinders they will experience on the night when the curtain rises.

A spokesperson for Scottish Ballet said there will be no same-sex pairing of the two main characters but there will be "a gay love story blossoming in the background" for a couple of the other characters.

The performance is choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by Elin Steele and will feature Principal Dancer Bruno Michiardi and Guest Principal Dancer Jessica Fyfe among the senior dancers alternating between the two main roles.

Ms Fyfe said: "Working with Christopher Hampson on his new Cinders for me personally has been very exhilarating.

"To give this new fluidity to the leading roles means exploring ways in which the character Cinders, traditionally the ‘poor’ Cinderella, can be a person of grit, determination and strength, which ultimately leads to them creating their own happy ending.

"I hope the audience enjoys this new twist on a beautiful classic, which now highlights how anyone can have a hand at shaping their own future.

"It’s not just for fairytales."

Scottish Ballet said the costumes will not differ: the Princess who sweeps Cinders off his feet will wear the same dress that the female Cinders will wear to the ball in her performances.

There will, though, be some small sections where the choreography differs.

Scottish Ballet Principal Dancer Bruno Michiardi said: "What I’ve found most interesting about swapping the roles of the Cinders leads is just how different and new it’s made the ballet feel.

"We all know and love the classic story of Cinderella, but this new version means we’re suddenly working in this amazing upside-down realm, where the male part, previously a more traditionally stoic character, is a complex mixture of vulnerability and resilience, and the female role, usually quite timid and downtrodden for most of the original ballet, is empowered and full of charisma. "I’m excited at the prospect of exploring this further and sharing that with the audience."