For 15 years, the Tony Williams Dance Center has been staging their own original holiday classic, Urban Nutcracker. This show takes the Tchaikovsky original and puts a modern spin on the tale, keeping the magic while centering it in a world similar to our own. The show is opening for its sixteenth season at the Back Bay Events Center.
The show’s philosophy says that art succeeds when it is an organic interpretation brought about by a unifying of cultures, and that is apparent in this staging. The show is a blend of modern, multicultural, and classical dance: ballet, urban tap, hip hop, swing, jazz, step, and flamenco dancing are all present in the show. The Tchaikovsky compositions remain the heartbeat of the show, but are woven together with some Duke Ellington.
The multitude of genres on display in Urban Nutcracker are representative of a larger diversity. The show has taken on new meaning over the years, reflecting the vibrant inclusiveness and multicultural backbone that is central to life in Boston. Tony Williams was once a classically-trained international ballet star, but his intention when creating this show was to illustrate the changing face of Boston and the world at large. The classical skeleton of the show remains, but with diverse dance forms woven on top of it.
This show has also been used to help cultivate an environment in which young dancers from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to connect with the show from their own point of view. People are able to see themselves reflected in the Urban Nutcracker in a way that the 19th century original perhaps does not allow them. In this regard, the show has helped create an authentic and empathetic experiences for audiences of all backgrounds.