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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Urban Nutcracker As The Multicultural Representation of Dance in Boston

When December rolls around, many of us look forward to the alluring and classic story of Clara and her beloved Nutcracker, who takes her on a magical journey to the Land of Sweets to witness dances and costumes from around the world. Boston Ballet is perhaps best known for their annual performance of the tale.
However, although classics are golden, local reproductions of the well-known story (with a twist, of course) are rising in popularity. For example, The Slutcracker, which premiered in 2008 as a parody of the original, portrays the story as one of a grown-up Clara exploring a sexual awakening. The Urban Nutcracker is another formidable portrayal of Clara’s journey but takes a different approach to the story. For 15 years, the Urban Nutcracker has been working to encourage diversity in the dance scene.
Tony Williams, artistic director of the Urban Nutcracker, explains that his group has put on performances that are Autism-friendly and LGBT supportive. He notes in the show’s program, handed out at the entrance of the Back Bay Events Center, that “these shows forward our belief in the power of inclusiveness. From the rehearsal room to the theater, we believe that as many people as possible should have access to the transformative power of the arts.”
The performance is not only accessible to many different kinds of people, but also boasts a uniquely diverse cast, with performers coming from many different ethnicities, ages, and body types. The performance also goes beyond ballet. It incorporates various forms of dance, such as hip hop and tap. The music is injected with diversity, joining elements of jazz into the original orchestrated work. The prologue even included four doo-wop singers.
The way Williams’ Urban Nutcracker incorporates diverse art forms, particularly African American forms like jazz, tap, and hip hop, makes the show truly “Boston” as it reflects on the city’s diversity.
The set of the performance is also reflective of Boston. For instance, screens placed at several areas of the stage displayed recognizable parts of Boston like the Paul Revere Monument covered in snow when snow fell in the play’s storyline. The small touches of Boston helped center the show at home.
Most spectacular of all, as far as the performance itself, was the incredible use of color for costume design. The second act featured dances from around the world, incorporating some of the most intricate and vibrant costumes seen on stage. It was impossible not to be drawn into the magic of the flowing skirts and glittering headpieces. Williams clearly understands the power of visual enchantment. The Urban Nutcracker does not hold back in giving audience members a wide array of costumes.
Overall, the Urban Nutcracker was charming beyond words. It is a rare mirror held up to a city that properly captures the vast blend of ethnicities and cultures Boston offers.