With the weather getting colder, that means it’s officially “Nutcracker” season.
Colton Ballet Company has their rendition at the Imperial Theatre from Nov. 23 to 25. Columbia County Ballet performs theirs at the same theater on Nov. 29 and 30.
But one hot “Nutcracker” show is coming to Augusta for the first time — “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
This traveling show that’s celebrating its fifth anniversary combines the classic sounds of Tchaikovsky’s music with retro hip-hop beats, and lots and lots of breakdancing mixed with ballet.
The Metro Spirit recently spoke to one of the founding fathers of hip-hop, Kurtis Blow, who serves as the New Jersey-based show’s MC.
“So, basically it’s the same story (as the classic ballet) — young people fighting the establishment and two young people who fall in love use the magic of their love to defeat the evil witches and warlocks that are out there,” Blow said. “So we modernized the old story and set it in the 1980s with hip-hop.”
Blow, who at age 20 was the first rapper signed to a major label, with his first hit being “Christmas Rappin,’” released in 1979, seems like a perfect fit for a show swirled up in the holidays and 1980s rap sounds. “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” starts its shows with a short set by the MC — and anyone who’s a fan of ’80s rap won’t want to miss this.
“I’m the first thing you see on stage, and I get everybody ready for the play. I take them back to the old school hip-hop. And of course, my Christmas rap — you know, it’s the holiday season, so we do ‘Christmas Rappin,’’ Blow said. “Then, the last song that I sing is a song called ‘New Year’s Eve,’ and I make everyone in the audience believe it’s New Year’s Eve, because we count down from 10 going all the way down to 1, and when we get to 1, everyone screams ‘Happy New Year!’ They all scream, and then we start to play. And then I come back out at the end, and I sing ”The Breaks,” along with the cast and crew, and we introduce each other, and then do a solo, breakdancing solo, and we’re having fun. Oh, it’s crazy good.”
During the show, about a dozen dancers play out the somewhat modern twist on the old “Nutcracker” story, while DJ Boo cuts up the ’80s beats with the sounds of Tchaikovsky. He’s accompanied by a violinist.
Blow said the talented group of hip-hop dancers make the show look fun and easy, but it’s really difficult.
“Of course, you have to audition for the part, and you really have to be good because Jennifer Weber, who is the choreographer, is an excellent artist and dancer herself, so she picks the best beat boys and beat girls around the country who give 110 percent,” he said. “They’re working hard backstage, huffing and puffing — it’s hard, hard work. It may look fun, but believe me, it is hard.”
As the choreographer, Weber tries to improve the show every year.
“It’s been exciting to evolve the show over the last five years as audiences continue to come back to see the creative changes we make to the production,” she said in a news release. “The dancers continue to raise the bar each year, which has taken the show to new heights.”
Blow said it’s hard to pinpoint what he loves most about “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
“There’s so many things that I enjoy about working with this show, but I think the main thing is the theme of the holiday season and the love that’s in the air. The joy that’s in the air,” Blow said. “The spirit of love from the holiday season, you know, you just want to grab your loved ones, your family and your friends and hug them. And say thank you for putting up with me all year, right, and this is — really, I just love the feeling. Everyone comes in with that holiday cheer, and it’s the theme of love. That’s what I really love about it. We need that now more than ever.”
If you’re into the idea of combining a really old-school Christmas story with the sounds of (less) old-school hip-hop, then you’ll want to check out this one-night-only show, happening Nov. 25 at the Miller Theater.
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker”
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25
$35-$75. Visit millertheateraugusta.com or call 800-514-3849.