‘Hip Hop Nutcracker’ Fuses Drastically Different Genres

The show, celebrating its 10th season at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, sets contemporary dance to Tchaikovsky's classic score.

Dancers on the stage of "Hip Hop Nutcracker"
NJPAC hosts the innovative Hip Hop Nutcracker on Saturday, December 17. Photo courtesy of NJPAC

The holiday hit Hip Hop Nutcracker, known for its revolutionary remix of a traditional ballet, celebrates its 10th season this year.

The original New Jersey Performing Arts Center show, which tours nationally, is distinguished by its contemporary hip-hop choreography set to the Nutcracker’s classic score by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It also includes a unique plot that emphasizes the holiday-spirited show’s themes of love, family and community, says director and choreographer Jennifer Weber. The show takes place on Saturday, December 17, at 2 pm (buy tickets on NJPAC’s website).

Top-tier talent will take the stage this season, including New York rapper Kurtis Blow, one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, who has also been dubbed America’s Christmas rapper for his hit song, “Christmas Rappin’” (1979).  

“Every year it gets stronger,” says Weber, the founder of Manhattan-based dance company Decadance Theatre. She says the idea to mix the two drastically different genres together came to her after she was asked, ‘How do you make hip-hop vulnerable?’ Her answer? Take away hip-hop music, which has a steady beat, and replace it with classical scores, which have a more unpredictable sound. 

“I think the hip-hop movement makes you hear the classical music in a totally new way, and the classical music makes you see the hip-hop choreography in a totally different way,” she says.

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