The holiday season is upon us.
For many, this time of year is steeped in tradition. Each year is marked by another tasting of mom’s cookies, another sip of dad’s eggnog or another trip to the Holidazzle.
There are also countless shows that embody the holiday season.
While everyone may have that one movie, TV show or play that reminds them of Christmas, there is perhaps one show that can evoke holiday nostalgia in even the biggest Scrooge – The Nutcracker.
The iconic ballet is played every year in almost every state in the United States. And even if you haven’t seen the ballet, you’ve heard the music (Fantasia anyone?).
Now, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s traditional ballet is being turned on its head. Literally.
In The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s story and music are matched up with urban hip hop dancing in the streets of New York City.
Aside from just the type of dance, the show has a number of nuances from the ballet in which it takes its title.
Instead of taking place on Christmas Eve, the Hip Hop Nutcracker takes place just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Maria-Clara, danced by Ann Sylvia Clark, and her family still get together with friends to celebrate the holiday, but the story revolves instead around the growing separation between Maria-Clara’s parents rather than the anticipation of presents.
There is still a mysterious man that offers up a bit of magic, but instead of being Maria-Clara’s godfather it is a street magician, Drosselmeyer, played by Miki Michelle.
Drosselmeyer’s magic is still used on the nutcracker, but in this version the nutcracker is an actual man, Gabriel Alvarez, selling nuts on the street. Thus, instead of turning him human, Drosselmeyer’s magic helps the Nutcracker a better dancer so he is able to win over Maria-Clara. The magic then takes the Nutcracker and Maria-Clara through time to see when her parents first met.
The journey brings the Nutcracker and Maria-Clara together and ultimately helps reunite Maria-Clara’s family.
The show uses the traditional music but pairs it with an electric violin, an on-stage DJ and hip hop moves.
The athleticism shown by each dancer cannot be overemphasized. While each move appeared to be done with ease, their muscles were rigid with strength.
Their endurance and flexibility left the audience in awe. From flips to spins to pop-and-locks, each move was made with precision and strength.
Clark played a lovable Maria-Clara and moved fluidly from movement to movement.
Alvarez played a charming Nutcracker and wowed audiences with his nimble footwork and quick spins.
But perhaps the dancers that excited the audience the most were Myriam Gadri and Alain “Hurrikane” Lauture.
The pair played Maria-Clara’s parents and amazed audiences during a number that depicted their meeting in a 1983 nightclub. The dance combined sultry salsa moves and proactive pop-and-locking while telling the story of how the two fell in love.
While the dancers captivated the audience with their amazing physicality, it should also be noted that Matthew Silvera captured their hearts with his beautiful playing on the electric violin.
With a fresh look at a beloved classic, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is sure to become a tradition of its own for many in the years to come.
The “Hip Hop Nutcracker” had a limited two-day run at The Ordway. The next show to open is “Sound of Music.” The show opens on Dec. 10 and runs through Jan. 2. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit The Ordway online.