Performance » Dance

A New Twist on The Nutcracker

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Each year as the Christmas season draws near, ballet companies and their students spend hours, weeks and months in rehearsals preparing to perform Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

The story of a young girl named Clara who goes on a magical adventure with her beloved Nutcracker toy has become a perennial holiday favorite for both young and old.

Through a dream sequence, Clara and the Nutcracker (who eventually turns into a Prince) battle the evil Mouse King and his army of rodents, enter into The Land of Sweets where they encounter the Sugar Plum Fairy, and enjoy dancers from many lands.

This isn’t your traditional version of The Nutcracker. Created, choreographed and directed by Nicole Hargro, Beyond the Pointe Dance Company’s Naptown Nutcracker features African-American leads and gives the holiday classic a more urban feel.  - COURTESY: BEYOND THE POINTE DANCE
  • Courtesy: Beyond the Pointe Dance
  • This isn’t your traditional version of The Nutcracker. Created, choreographed and directed by Nicole Hargro, Beyond the Pointe Dance Company’s Naptown Nutcracker features African-American leads and gives the holiday classic a more urban feel.

There are nearly a dozen versions of The Nutcracker performed on stages throughout Central Indiana - from the Indianapolis School of Ballet to Butler Ballet.

While most stay true to the classical retelling of the two-act fairytale ballet, Beyond the Pointe Dance offers an urban twist.

Now in its sixth year, Naptown Nutcracker features classical and contemporary ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop and even some martial arts to tell the story of the young girl and her toy soldier. The hour-long production, performed by students age 5-17, offers three performances this Friday (Dec. 4 th) at Marian University Theatre.

“That’s the difference between us and the traditional, classical ballet of ‘The Nutcracker,’ “ says Nicole Hargro, founder of Beyond the Pointe, about the different styles of dance. “We’re not really a spinoff, but I always try to make the comparison to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘The Wiz’ when (describing) our version of ‘The Nutcracker’ to the others.”

Hargro, who also directs a traditional version of The Nutcracker each year at Broad Ripple Magnet High School where she teaches, says one of the reasons she created Naptown Nutcracker was to bring the popular story to the urban community.

Many of the dancers in Naptown Nutcracker are African-American, including young Clara (renamed Clarissa in this retelling).

“The majority of our performers are African-American, but we do have other nationalities of dancers involved as well,” says Hargro. “(For me), young black girls need to be able to see a girl that looks like them in that role, in a lead role.

Naptown Nutcracker also features classical and contemporary ballet, jazz, hip-hop and modern dance. Three performances will be held Dec. 4 at the Marian University Theatre.  - COURTESY: BEYOND THE POINTE DANCE
  • Courtesy: Beyond the Pointe Dance
  • Naptown Nutcracker also features classical and contemporary ballet, jazz, hip-hop and modern dance. Three performances will be held Dec. 4 at the Marian University Theatre.

“My vision and my goal is to offer underprivileged children the opportunity to perform in a production as big as something like The Nutcracker and to be able to do just as much, if not more (dance styles), than some of the other dancers at some of the other companies that exist in the Central Indiana area,” she explains.

Although there are a few changes to the storyline and character names, Naptown Nutcracker pays homage to the traditional score by Tchaikovsky in the party scene but also includes a Kenny G medley, and a Nat King Cole overture.

Hargro knows she took a huge chance in tweaking a beloved holiday classic – Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker received its premiere in St. Petersburg, Moscow, in 1892 and its western premiere in the 1940s – but believes her audiences get enough of the classic tale.

“(Our story) is more reminiscent to this day and time, for people who really don’t know about the traditional story, she says. “But they do get the classics within this production.”

As for the retelling of the classic version, Hargro is happy that there are several offerings each holiday season throughout the city.

“As a dance instructor and teacher, I never want our young generation to lose the foundation of dance – especially in the performing arts,” says Hargro. “We’re getting to the place where we’re going toward the hip-hop end in dance, and that’s all well and good in its place. But we can’t lose what was founded – our original start, our original classics, our original moves, as far as ballet is concerned.”


Naptown Nutcracker

What: An urban version of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, presented by Beyond the Pointe Dance.

When: 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

Where: Marian University Theatre, 3200 Cold Spring Road.

Tickets: $3 all ages (10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. shows); $5 adults and $3 students (4:30 p.m. show).

Info: www.beyondthepointedance.com . Purchase advance tickets at https://web.tututix.com/beyondthepointedance.


The Nutcracker for the Purists

Ballet companies and schools throughout the world, and around Indianapolis offer a variety of performances of this holiday classic each year. From traditional to non-traditional to touring versions, here are several offerings of the popular ballet.

(Performances are listed according to dates.)

Butler Ballet

What: Butler Ballet’s production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker also features the Butler Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 8 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, 2 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.

Where: Clowes Hall, 4602 Sunset Ave.

Tickets: $21.50, $28.50 adults; $17, $23 children, students and seniors.

Info: www.cloweshall.org or (317) 940-6444.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s G2 students will stage The Nutcracker Dec. 4-6 at Pike Performing Arts Center.  - COURTESY: GREGORY HANCOCK DANCE THEATRE
  • Courtesy: Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
  • Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s G2 students will stage The Nutcracker Dec. 4-6 at Pike Performing Arts Center.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre

What: A full-length modern version of The Nutcracker, performed by G2 (the pre-professional company of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre) and Academy students. This re-imagined version portrays Klara as a homeless orphan girl who discovers the true meaning of the season from an unlikely source: a homeless man. A Nutcracker Tea will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 5 (before the matinee performance).

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, 3 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.

Where: Pike Performing Arts Center, 6701 Zionsville Road.

Tickets: $25 adults, $15 students and seniors for performance. Tea tickets are $15 per person or $85 for a table of six.

Info: www.gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org.


Broad Ripple Magnet High School

What: A production featuring the classical version of this holiday ballet performed by students at Broad Ripple Magnet High School.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 9.

Where: Gene Poston Auditorium, Broad Ripple High School, 1115 Broad Ripple Ave.

Tickets: $7 adults, $5 students or $3 for students with ID.

Info: www.myips.com/brmhs . Tickets sold at the door.


Indiana Ballet Conservatory

What: A traditional retelling of The Nutcracker, featuring the dancers of IBC and Lasha Khozashvili (principal dancer with Boston Ballet).

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 12 and 13; 2 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13.

Where: Tobias Theatre inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 Michigan Road.

Tickets: $20 to $30. Parking is $5.

Info: www.indianaballetconservatory.org .


Central Indiana Academy of Dance

What : A traditional performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The production also includes a Dessert Party prior to matinee performances.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, 2 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13.

Where: Zionsville Performing Arts Center, 1000 Mulberry St.

Tickets: $25 adults, $18 students for the production. $10 per person for the Dessert Party.

Info: www.ciaodance.com .


Ballet Theatre of Carmel

What : Ballet Theatre of Carmel will present The Nutcracker, featuring a guest performance by Kids Dance Outreach.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 2 p.m. Dec. 13.

Where: Carmel High School Auditorium, 520 E. Main St., Carmel.

Tickets: $25 adults, $15 children age 10 and younger, $20 students age 11-18 with school ID, $40 adult two-show pass.

Info: www.ballettheatreofcarmel.org .

The Indianapolis School of Ballet will perform a traditional version of The Nutcracker.. - COURTESY: INDIANAPOLIS SCHOOL OF BALLET
  • Courtesy: Indianapolis School of Ballet
  • The Indianapolis School of Ballet will perform a traditional version of The Nutcracker..

Indianapolis School of Ballet

What: A full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, featuring ISB’s pre-professional students and special guests. This holiday production follows the traditional story of Clara and her beloved Nutcracker, while transporting audiences to Victorian Indianapolis inside the Morris-Butler House.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 3 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21.

Where: Scottish Rite Cathedral Theater, 650 N. Meridian St.

Tickets: $22-$27 adults; $17-$22 children, students and seniors.

Info: www.indyballet.org .


Ballet Theatre of Indiana

What: Ballet Theatre of Indiana presents its first production of The Nutcracker at the Athenaeum in downtown Indianapolis, featuring BTI professional dancers and guests from Le Danse Ballroom and Ballet Theatre of Carmel. (Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be available for purchase in the lobby.)

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19, 2 p.m. Dec. 20.

Where: Athenaeum Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St.

Tickets: $25.

Info: www.btindiana.org .

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