This December, New York City's United Palace of Cultural Arts is adding some urban flair to Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
The production remixes the original “Nutcracker” to feature powerful hip-hop dance, from breaking to popping and locking. Virgil Gadson, a classically-trained dancer who will perform in the play, explained how this production differs from more traditional iterations of “The Nutcracker.”
“With ballet, you’re pretty much going over the music. ... But with hip-hop dance, we’re hitting the exact beats,” he said. “Hitting those tiny little accents in the music, that’s what sort of sets it apart.”
In the show, each character embodies a different style of hip-hop, choreographer Jennifer Weber told HuffPost Live's Caitlyn Becker.
“Part of it is the music and interpreting the music through the body and then using different types of hip-hop to create different characters,” she said. “So the dance vocabulary of Maria Clara is very different from the Drosselmeyer.”
The most challenging aspect of the production was learning to grapple with the very different style of music and to think about the rhythm beyond traditional tempo counts.
“As hip-hop dancers, we’re used to looking at the music as very 5-6-7-8, but there’s no 5-6-7-8 to Tchaikovsky,” Weber said. “You’ve just gotta listen and listen and listen.”
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