A perennial favorite at Christmastime is the Nutcracker ballet. For many a struggling dance company this show is a real moneymaker and for some companies a real lifesaver too. Each of these instances of the Nutcracker is a little bit different from the others. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is way different from the rest, but it works.
We were a little concerned during the overture, when the DJ (DJ Boo) opened with thunderous takes from old-school hip hop hits that were loud enough to be felt, in addition to being heard. Things soon quieted down though and with the introduction of the solo violinist (David Marks) Tchaikovsky’s music reigned mostly supreme. There were a few hip hop musical stylings and I would have preferred that there had been more, but in this pairing of classical and hip hop, the music was classical, while the story and dance were both hip hop. For example, here is the updated synopsis:
During the annual uptown holiday street party, Maria-Clara (Ann-Sylvia Clark) is upset by her parents’ constant bickering. The mysterious Drosselmeyer (SHEstreet) appears, bringing magical toys to the party. He introduces Maria-Clara to a street vendor selling nuts, who catches her eye, because he is different from the other boys on the block. After the party breaks up, Maria-Clara heads home, but on her way, she runs into the menacing Mouse Crew. The Nutcracker (Josue “Beast” Figueroa), aided by a magic pair of sneakers, defeats the Mouse King (Randi Fleckenstine) and the couple enjoys the romance of winter’s first snowfall.
Drosselmeyer meets Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker and takes them back in time to the Land of Sweets nightclub on New Year’s Eve, 1984. Invisible, the couple watches the party-goers show off the dance styles of the day. Suddenly Maria-Clara realizes she is witnessing the night her parents first met and is overcome by how they were once deeply in love. Back in the present, and with a little more magic, Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker help Mom (Yorelis Apolinario) and Dad (JD Rainey) reconcile. The community joins them in the celebration.
In Hip Hop Nutcracker the dancing was high energy and complemented well Tchaikovsky’s often frenetic music. Considering that there are only twelve dancers in this particular company and most Nutcracker troupes comprise upwards of a hundred dancers, the energy output from these dancers was simply amazing. The peasant dances were among my favorites. We both had a good time and are pleased to go see a performance that was a little out of our calcifying comfort zone.