Strathmore presents virtual ‘Hip-Hop Nutcracker’ for Tchaikovsky remix

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Hip-Hop Nutcracker' (Part 1)

“The Nutcracker” has become an annual holiday tradition, but if you’re looking for a new twist on the classic story, check out the virtual remix “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker.”

Strathmore will stream the event this Saturday at 7 p.m. and again Sunday at 3 p.m.

“We were actually lucky enough to have recorded it two years ago,” director and choreographer Jenn Weber told WTOP. “You actually get to be even closer to the dancers than you would ever get to be in the front row. The camera really brings you in. You can see every expression on their faces; every detail of every dance move.”

Weber co-created the show five years ago in the Big Apple.

“We originally created ‘The Hip-Hop Nutcracker’ in New York and started going on tour in 2015,” Weber said. “We’ve done a bunch of national tours. We’ve gone as far as Russia. … The original idea was to create a holiday show for a really big audience and see what happens when you mix classical music with hip-hop dance.”

That’s right, get ready for Tchaikovsky’s famous score remixed at turntables.

“This show is set completely to the original Tchaikovsky score,” Weber said. “In addition, we have some of our own original remixes that we use throughout the show for a changing location kind of vibe. There is a violinist in the show and also a DJ, so they create some of their own improvisational riffs off of Tchaikovsky loops.”

Likewise, the dance numbers feature a different style than traditional ballet.

“Hip-hop is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different dance styles,” Weber said. “You have breaking, popping, locking. Those are the real old-school foundation. … We get to use these different vocabularies to create the different characters.”

A dozen elite dancers play the beloved characters from the timeless story.

“We’re translating all the characters you know and love … and giving them a hip-hop update,” Weber said. “We meet Maria Clara at a big party with her family, just our version is a New York block party on New Year’s Eve. … The Nutcracker [is] a ridiculous B-boy. … They go back in time to the ’80s to the start of hip-hop.”

Add a special cameo by MC legend Kurtis Blow and it’s the perfect holiday event.

“It’s just such a beautiful show,” Weber said. “It’s so high energy and it will absolutely get you in the holiday spirit. There’s something really magical about hip-hop dance and classical music. … If we can bring these two worlds together … everything is possible.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Hip-Hop Nutcracker' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up