Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lil' Monsters in NYC: The Hip Hop Nutcracker

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Most weekends if you find that we've stayed home & walk passed our apartment door you'd hear music streaming down the halls and if you glanced inside you'd see my boys singing and dancing along while they giggle & whip and nae-nae. Dance parties are one of our fave ways to pass the time when hanging in doors. Our ten year old CJ studies ballet 3 days a week but also loves all the current dance trends you find going viral in dubsmash videos these days and on popular shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. At 5 years old Tristan has an inner B-boy in him and loves to spin and slide across the floor with the swag of a professional street dancer. Fostering a love for the arts is something we've always found to be essential while raising our boys here in NYC, with an array of performances to engage and excite kids of all ages.

On November 20 and 21 “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” returns to the United Palace (4140 Broadway at 175th Street, NY, NY) to kick off a 12-city tour, including Miami, Atlanta, St. Paul, Charleston, Charlotte, and Moscow, Russia.

The show features the music from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”, 11 dancers, DJ Boo, an electric violinist, and digital scenery that complements the adapted storyline, which locates the action to New Year’s Eve in a contemporary Washington Heights community in New York City. The adaptation is respectful of the traditional narrative with references to beloved touchstones like the Mouse King and growing tree. 

The production inserts the vocabulary of hip hop movement to what has traditionally been a classical ballet, broadening the audience for the art form. The variety of styles represented (breaking, popping, locking, etc.) serve as a history lesson of hip hop dance.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

“What better way to bring people together during the holidays than to combine different popular art forms to reach as wide an audience as possible, then dip this classic story in a contemporary setting that celebrates community,” said Mike Fitelson, executive director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts who adapted the story and is supplying the imagery for the scenery. “This production is the perfect symbol of how we are combining old and new to reinvent the United Palace. It has become a new holiday tradition here.”

To highlight the union of past and present the special guest for the November 20 show is the “King of Rap” Kurtis Blow who charted the first rap gold record with “The Breaks” in 1980. (His other hits include “Basketball,” “Christmas Rappin’,” and “If I Ruled the World.”) 
“I’m always excited about any undertaking that expands the culture of hip hop,” said Blow. “I feel blessed after 45 years to still be able to contribute.”

“We were faithful to the music and let it drive the storytelling,” said director/choreographer Jennifer Weber of Decadeance theatre. “The juxtaposition of the hip hop dance and classical music allows you to see the beauty of both in fresh ways, finding new rhythms in the music to accentuate. Since Tchaikovsky's score doesn't have a predictable beat, there is always a sense of surprise in the movement.”


Last year “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” was an experiment - how would audiences respond to hip hop dance being performed to Tchaikovsky's famous score? But after 5,000 audience members attended two shows at the United Palace in Washington Heights and two sold out shows at New Jersey Performing Arts Center it was clear that the metropolitan area had another hit holiday show on its hands.

Time Out New York called it “a classic rebooted.” CBS News said it “turns Tchaikovsky on his head in the coolest possible way.” And Elle magazine summed it up as “A truly one-of-a-kind experience, filled with high-powered choreography and a very modern storyline.”
The November 21 matinee show is a benefit for youth arts programs at the United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA), the nonprofit that co-created the show with Decadance theatre Company last year. 

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is producing the 2015-2016 show. The United Palace of Cultural Arts is the original producing theatre.
Where:           United Palace, 4140 Broadway at 175th Street, New York, NY
                        Friday, November 20, 8:00pm, with special guest Kurtis Blow, the “King of Rap.”
                        Saturday, November 21, matinee performance at 2:00pm  
(Doors open 90 minutes before each show.)
Tickets:          $10.00 - $100.00 at  or call 212-568-1157
Group Sales: Email  or call 212-568-1157

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