Hyde Park School of Dance’s Nutcracker Mixes Ballet, Hip Hop And Modern Dance

Rohana Weaver as the Mouse Queen - Photo by Marc Monaghan

Rohana Weaver as the Mouse Queen (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

(Chicago) – Hyde Park School of Dance (HPSD) brings together fans of ballet, modern, and hip hop with its annual presentation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, with more than 175 dancers — primarily children ages 7 to 18. The cast includes weekly students and members of the school’s pre-professional Studio Company and features high school seniors who have grown up at the school, all supported by hundreds of volunteers.

Performances are December 13–15 at Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus, 1131 E. 57th Street, Chicago.

Staged by HPSD’s founding Artistic Director August Tye, longtime ballet mistress for Lyric Opera of Chicago, the 90-minute narrated production follows Clara, Fritz, and the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer from the family holiday party and a midnight battle between the Nutcracker’s toy soldiers and the Mouse Queen’s squeaky troops through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Valerie Lowder as Clara - Photo by Marc Monaghan

Valerie Lowder as Clara (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Unlike other versions of this holiday classic, HPSD includes a breakdance battle to showcase the range of dance genres the school offers while sending a message of peace — instead of battling with swords, mice and soldiers tap into the power of hip hop to work out their differences through creative self-expression.

Prior to each performance, the Pre-Ballet Holiday Show showcases some of the school’s younger ballet students in performance. Dancers ages 4 to 7 from HPSD’s Pre-Ballet classes will warm up the stage in what is for many of them their first-ever performance.

The production also features surprise cameos by local VIPs in the larger-than-life role of Mother Ginger. This year’s Mother Gingers include longtime HPSD parent and past board member Jana French and founding/honorary board member Marilyn Sheperd, whose daughters, Allyson and Gayle Ratliff, are on HPSD’s faculty.

Delaney Peet Doing the Splits - Photo by Marc Monaghan

Delaney Peet Doing the Splits – Photo by Marc Monaghan

Previous guest performers have included Hyde Park Herald Editor Daschell Phillips, Montgomery Place board chair Mike McGarry, former Kenwood Academy High School Principal Dr. Gregory Jones, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, former State Representative Kimberly DuBuclet, and Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell.

On Friday, December 13, HPSD performs a sold-out abridged version for hundreds of school children, many seeing their first ballet, and senior center residents. The performance is made possible by Hyde Park School of Dance’s Community Engagement program, which also serves the public by offering quality dance instruction in schools, community centers, and park district programs citywide.

Adding a special element to the performance experience, HPSD’s Holiday Bazaar, taking place on site during select performances, offers audience members the opportunity to meet characters from The Nutcracker, finish up their holiday shopping with a wide variety of local vendors, and indulge in hot chocolate and other festive treats.

The Holiday Bazaar takes place Saturday, December 14 from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 from noon to 5 p.m.

The Nutcracker takes place Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m.;
Saturday, December 14 at 1 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m.
at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th Street, in Chicago.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors (65+), $10 for children ages 6-18
and for students with school ID, and free for children 5 and younger.
Special $40 reserved tickets are available for audience members of all ages.

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

Hyde Park School of Dance

Founded in 1993 as the Hyde Park School of Ballet, Hyde Park School of Dance is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing opportunities for students of all ages and abilities to study, perform, and create classical and contemporary dance at the highest levels of discipline and artistry within a community dedicated to the welcoming inclusion of dancers of all races, religions, body types, genders, sexual orientations, and family income backgrounds.

Led by Founding Artistic Director August Tye, Hyde Park School of Dance is committed to offering children the chance to experience the empowering rewards of self-discipline, hard work, and collaboration in a diverse and supportive environment, cultivating a love of dance and a strength of body, mind, and character that will benefit students throughout their lives.

Press Release Via: Hyde Park School of Dance

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