“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” traveling holiday production made a stop at the Palace Theatre for a one-night-only spectacular on Dec. 5. The show features Tchaikovsky’s classical score, mixed with an on-stage DJ, DJ Boo; an electric violinist and a dozen incredible hip-hop dancers. Though unconventional, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” was an incredible treat from start to finish that deserves to be its own holiday tradition.
The show detours from the traditional version of “The Nutcracker” in several ways. The music features a thudding bass and classic hip-hop record scratches mixed with classical string instruments. Additionally, the dancers stray from the well-known ballet routine, instead opting for more contemporary hip-hop moves, including krumping, break-dancing, areal moves and even some head slides.
The storyline also varies from the original “Nutcracker.” It follows Maria-Clara and The Nutcracker, a man who sells hot nuts from a cart, as they travel back in time to when Maria-Clara’s parents first meet at a nightclub in Brooklyn. Still, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” celebrates love, joy and family around the holiday season, just as “The Nutcracker” does.
Producer, rapper and DJ Kurtis Blow, famous for his song, “Christmas Rappin’,” as well as many others, was the guest MC for the night.
Regarding this adaption of the production showing during the holiday season, Blow said in a phone interview conducted with The Chimes, “It’s very, very important. It’s a time to thank [your friends and family] and God for all the blessings you’ve received throughout the year.”
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” is directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the artistic director of the Brooklyn based theatrical hip-hop dance company Decadancetheatr. The story was adapted to contemporary New York City by Mike Fitelson, the executive director of United Palace of Cultural Arts.
The contemporary twist on a classic tale, mixed with the incredibly talented dancers and the wonderful live music, made for a uniquely impressive show that I would be happy to see again.
Dates for the show run through December. Tickets can be purchased here.
Valerie Szabo was the Editor-in-Chief for the 2017-2018 editions of the Chimes. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology.