Black Girls See The Hip Hop Nutcracker Ballet?
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always been fascinated with dance, especially ballet. I took tap, jazz, and ballet lessons for about 7 years. There is so much beauty and art in dancing.
The Nutcracker Ballet was always the one performance I looked forward to around the holiday season. This is why I knew I needed to see the hip-hop version of the ballet I loved.
On Wednesday, Dec. 6th, my family and I made our way to the State Theater in the beautiful Playhouse Square district. I’ll admit, I was not sure what the crowd would look like. It was so amazing to see a variety of people there in support of the arts. I thought what a powerful image for our youth to be able to see a part of their culture infused into a classical theater production.
As we walked into the theater we saw a DJ on the stage and a giant screen highlighting the name of the event.
While the DJ kept the crowd entertained with the likes of Bruno Mars, Mary J Blige, and other crowd pleasers, nothing could compare to the energy that filled the theater when Kurtis Blow came on stage. As the MC for the night, he took us all the way back to old school rap and hip-hop.
He definitely got the crowd pumped for what was next. He told us to imagine that it was New Year’s Eve and we counted backward from 10-1 to begin the show.
An electric violinist played to a beat that DJ Boo mixed while the digital screen came alive before our eyes taking us to a street corner in Brooklyn, NY on New Year’s Eve.
A vibrant group of young adults entered the stage, walking down the street playing around, having a good time, drinking, and listening to music. They begin to dance with one another, battling to the classical music of Tchaikovsky. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Just like the original ballet, this is a two-part act but with some hip-hop differences.
Marie Clara is one of the young women who is enjoying the night with her friends. In the midst of this, we see her parents arguing over dancing. Both mom and dad can dance just as well as the young kids, but the father seems to have a problem with the constant dancing. Shortly after they leave the stage, we meet Drosselmeyer, the magician.
She wowed the crowd and the young dancers with her ability to make people dance. The young dancers were in a trance as they watched her make a young girl and boy dance like puppets. They didn’t even notice the young man pushing a cart down the street. He’s pushing a cart full of nuts which is titled The Nutcracker. It was genius.
He decides that he wants a part of the action, so he shows off his dancing skills to the group. They fall out of their trance and laugh at him. Some of them do a move and challenge him to try. He isn’t doing it quite right so they all leave, except Marie Claire. Drosselmeyer is watching closely and sees the bond forming between them.
My favorite part of the show is when the streetlight comes on and shows a pair of red shoes hanging from its pole. You can tell that they are magical. And in good street hip-hop form, a gunshot is heard and the shoes fall from the pole. The Nutcracker puts them on and his dancing skills improve tremendously.
Marie Clara and the Nutcracker realize their feelings for each other as they continue to connect through dance. They begin to make their way deeper into the neighborhood towards her home. Tchaikovsky’s music comes alive as the mice dancers come on the stage. They are looking for trouble and decide to try and attack Marie Clara. Her Nutcracker comes to her rescue, as well as her friends, and they win the battle defending their neighborhood against the mice.
The second half of the show was about Marie Clara’s parents. The digital screen, with the help of Drosselmeyer transforms us to a part of the city where we go underground, beneath the subway to a club.
The year is 1987, and it’s where Marie Clara and the Nutcracker witness how her parents met. Her mom was a beautiful amazing dancer like her. She was the woman that every guy wanted to dance with, but she had her own style. That is until a young man walked in with the complete Run DMC outfit on.
His vibe and style fit hers perfectly. The way they moved together in perfect harmony brought them together forever. Time fast forwards to the present so that Marie Clara and her Nutcracker prince knew how to bring her parents back together. They helped her parents find their way back to their first love, dance.
This was such a beautiful story of love, community, and the magic of New Year’s Eve. Seeing this play transform from a classical ballet into a hip-hop street story was amazing. I wish all of the stories could be told from this point of view.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker is on its third tour and I’m really looking forward to the next one. Let’s continue to show our support for the arts and the theater. Hope to see you there next year!
Peace and Love,