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'Hip Hop Nutcracker' Combines Classic Score With Fresh Choreography

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” returns to The Bushnell for its third holiday season this Friday. 

There aren’t any tutus or pointe shoes. Instead, the holiday remix features Tchaikovsky’s original score but swaps ballet for break-dancing and includes a few other additions.

Among them is hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow, who opens the show with an old-school set and a few of his signature rhymes like “Christmas Rappin’.” Blow grew up in Harlem watching “The Nutcracker” on TV but never saw the real production. Now he’s a part of one.

“It’s really an incredible presentation,” Blow said. “To see classical music and hip-hop together doesn’t really surprise me.”

Blow, who’s 60, had a major open-heart surgery earlier this year.

“It’s a thrill and an honor just to be out here on tour again,” he said. “The doctors say I’m a ‘miracle man walking,’ the fact that I can be out there on stage again -- it’s just a blessing, total blessing.”

The show reminds audiences that hip-hop isn’t just about rapping -- it’s about deejaying, B-boying and the art of writing or graffiti, paying homage to all four pillars. Randi Freitas taught the choreography to this year’s cast of dancers and plays the Mouse Queen.

Credit Timothy Norris / Courtesy: The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Courtesy: The Hip Hop Nutcracker

“I think breaking and popping and all these other street styles have such an elegance about it that people don’t often get to see because they like to see the hype,” Freitas said. “But when you put it to classical music and our dancers really get to express themselves and slow everything down, it becomes this really beautiful, graceful movement.”

She says the cast of dancers is “full of energy and joy for what they do” during the tour’s more than 30 shows in 30 cities. Together, the dancers learned the choreography for the two-hour show in just two weeks.

“We’ve put in a lot of work in a short amount of time,” Freitas said. “We really enjoy taking this show around the country, and we really hope to inspire and bring joy to the audiences that come to see it.”

The tour stops in Hartford for one night only before heading to Rhode Island.



Ryan Lindsay has been asking questions since she figured how to say her first few words. She eventually figured out that journalism is the profession where you can and should always ask questions.

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