The story of The Nutcracker originated in 1816 by German author E.T.A Hoffmann, and was called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”
In the story, a young Marie Stahibaum’s favorite toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle. He then takes her away to a magical doll kingdom.
In 1892, The Russian composer Pyotr Llyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of the story into the ballet, The Nutcracker.
Another adaptation came to life in Asbury Park last Thursday night at the Paramount Theater as the NJPAC (New Jersey Performance Art Center) combined this classical ballet with modern Hip Hop music and dance moves.
The performance opened with Curtis Blow, a contemporary Rap artist, getting the audience pumped up. It then moved to the traditional with an electric violin performance that weaves between classical and modern music.
The holiday mash-up, a contemporary re-imagination set in New York, features 12 dancers, digital scenery, a DJ and an electric violinist. With the help of a mysterious wizard’s spells, heroine Maria-Clara and her Nutcracker prince travel back in time to the 1980s, to the moment when her parents met in a nightclub.
The breaking, popping, and locking cast wears street-inspired costumes. The action starts at a block party in Manhattan, where Maria-Clara’s parents are fighting. The teen goes in search of a nerdy but cute nut vendor she saw on the street and ends up battling the Mouse King.
The nut vendor, aka the Nutcracker, comes to her rescue and gets trounced by the mice. He then gains some dance skills with the help of magic sneakers and does some very epic head spins to finally defeat the Mouse King.
What this modern day version is also not short on is talent. The dancers seamlessly combine this classical ballet with an impressive array of breakdance moves, including a one-handed 360 upsidedown rotation.
And to the audience, they deliver a very enjoyable performance.