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How ‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker’ brings beats and breakdancing to Christmas classic

By in Press Enterprise on November 3, 2017

By Richard Guzman

As the familiar music of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” played in the background, a group of young dancers rehearsing in a North Hollywood studio began moving to the classical score.

But instead of pirouettes and pliés, they were popping, locking and breakdancing to the music of the ballet as they prepared for an upcoming production of “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” which they’ll perform in association with a pioneering rapper.

“There’s something really beautiful about the juxtaposition of holiday music and hip-hop dance. It’s sort of bringing two worlds together that you wouldn’t think would go together but are actually beautiful together,” said Jennifer Weber, director, choreographer and co-creator of the traveling show during a break from rehearsals.

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Produced by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and co-commissioned by the United Palace of Cultural Arts, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” comes to the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside Nov. 9 and The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles Nov. 17.

Besides a cast of a dozen athletic dancers and an electric violinist, the show features Kurtis Blow, who is one of hip-hop’s founding fathers and no stranger to breaking new ground.

“That’s the thing about music, it is so miraculous and awesome when you get a fusion like that. …It’s just so awesome when it works together like that,” said the rapper during a phone interview a few weeks before the show.

Blow was the first rapper signed to a major label in 1979 and one of the first to fuse hip-hop with other genres, like rock and reggae.

So when he first heard about a hip-hop version of “The Nutcracker” four years ago when the show was first created, he had no hesitation jumping […]    

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