An Inside Look Into Boston’s ‘Urban Nutcracker’

Shows begin on Friday, December 16

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Rob Michaelson

Boston's "Urban Nutcracker" kicks off its 16th season on Friday, December 16.

The "Urban Nutcracker" is a modern take on the classic 19th century ballet.

The show incorporates some Duke Ellington jazz with the traditional Tchaikovsky music.

Tony Williams, the founder of the performance and owner of the Tony Williams Dance Center, combined ballet, urban tap, hip hop, swing, flamenco, step, and jazz into this original performance.

Williams compared his version of the classic ballet to, "a stew."

"You'll see the traditional with the contemporary, sort of like a big stew, it's sort of all put together...and I'm always experimenting with the spices," Williams said.

All of the costumes seen in the show were designed by Dustin Rennells, who came on board back in 2015.

Rennells says for the 15th anniversary he and Williams had the opportunity to alter some of the costumes into what Williams originally envisioned.

"We kind of went in a more new direction...now we had our chance to change things," said Rennells. 

One of Rennells's favorite costumes is the Snow Queen's because of the 4,000 crystals that are hand sewn to the bodysuit and tutu.

"We put [the crystals] onto these mesh little pieces...and tack it right onto [the dancer]," said Rennels. 

Another favorite is the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Rennells says the character represents "the city of Boston, almost like skyscrapers."

The purple costume is complete with panels on the bodysuit and tutu that resemble windows of a skyscraper. 

"It's very Boston-centric our show, so I think it gives us more of a way to distinguish ourselves, especially through costumes," Rennells added.

The traditional role of Clara in the original "Nutcracker" is transformed into the role of Clarice in "Urban Nutcracker."

There are numerous girls playing the role of Clarice, most of whom dance with the Tony Williams Dance Center regularly.

The ballet will be performed at the John Hancock Hall in Boston's Back Bay.

Tickets can be purchased online.

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