Ballet and Hip Hop Combine in Hyde Park School of Dance's THE NUTCRACKER

Ballet and Hip Hop Combine in Hyde Park School of Dance's THE NUTCRACKER

To continue its 25th anniversary season, Hyde Park School of Dance (HPSD) offers fans of ballet, modern and hip hop its annual presentation of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, featuring more than 175 dancers-from seven-year-olds to grandparents, including members of the pre-professional Studio Company and senior dancers who have grown up at the school- supported by more than 100 volunteers. Performances are December 14-16 at Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus, 1131 E. 57th Street, Chicago.

Staged by HPSD Founding Artistic Director August Tye, ballet mistress and choreographer at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the 90-minute narrated production follows Clara, Fritz and the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer from the family holiday party and the midnight battle with the Mouse Queen and her troops through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

HPSD includes a hip hop dance battle again this year to showcase the range of dance genres the school offers, as well as send a message of peace-instead of battling with swords, the mouse-soldiers use hip hop as their "weapons."

Each year, HPSD casts one or more Chicago VIPs as the honorary Mother Ginger. Previous guest performers have included Hyde Park Herald Editor Daschell Phillips, Montgomery Place President and community advocate Mike McGarry, Kenwood Academy High School Principal Dr. Gregory Jones, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, State Representative Kimberly DuBuclet, and Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell. The 2018 guest Mother Gingers will be announced soon.

On Friday, December 14, HPSD performs an abridged version for hundreds of school children, many seeing their first ballet. The performance is part of HPSD's community engagement program, STEPS(Serve, Train, Educate, Promote, Succeed).

Prior to each performance, the Pre-Ballet Holiday Show showcases HPSD's youngest ballet students in performance.

Adding a special element to the performance experience, the Hyde Park School of Dance Holiday Bazaar offers an opportunity to meet characters from The Nutcracker, finish holiday shopping from the wares of local vendors and indulge in a hot chocolate bar and other treats. The Holiday Bazaar takes placeSaturday, December 15 from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday, December 16 from noon to 5 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Lounge on the first floor of the Reynolds Club, the same building housing Mandel Hall.

The Nutcracker takes place Friday, December 14 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 15 at 1 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, December 16 at 2 p.m. at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th Street in Chicago.

Tickets, which go on sale November 1, are $40 for reserved seating (all ages); general admission tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors (65+), $10 for children ages six to 18 and students with ID and free for children younger than six (but must reserve).

Tickets and information are available at 773-493-8498 or hydeparkdance.org/tickets.

Photo: Ahmad Hill as an Arabian dancer; photo by Damien Thompson

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