4 Nontraditional Versions of The Nutcracker

Photo courtesy of The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Debbie Allen's The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (2010) fuses ballet with tap, flamenco, hip hop and gymnastics in fantastical settings such as Candy Cane Land, Jazzland and the Land of the Kimono Dolls.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker (2014) is set in New York City and juxtaposes Tchaikovsky's classical score with hip-hop choreography created by Jennifer Weber, artistic director of Brooklyn-based hip-hop troupe Decadancetheatre.

Mark Morris' The Hard Nut (1991) turns the holiday classic on its head with party dances that include the hokey pokey and the bump, G.I. Joes leading the charge in the battle scene and nontraditional gender casting.

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! (1992) sees the heroine, Clara, travel from a miserable orphanage to the zany Sweetieland, where she has to fight her obnoxious rival Sugar for the affections of the Nutcracker prince.


Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Photo by Simon Annand, courtesy of New Adventures

Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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