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"Hip Hop Nutcracker" puts twist on Christmas classic

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Dancers of RACE Dance Company.
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OKLAHOMA CITY-- The Nutcracker is arguably the most beloved and beautiful Christmas ballet of all time. But for all its beauty and old-world magic, it has the cultural relevance of any fairy tale.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a modern imagining of the classic tale for three shows beginning on Dec. 8 at the OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave.

“We reimagined it to make it more applicable.  I felt like we could make it go deeper,” said Hui Cha Poos, founder and executive director of the RACE (Radical Application of Creative Energy) Dance Company.

Poos said the story was changed to delve into the dreams and fears of today’s youth.  The character of Clara from the classic story has been morphed into Carlos, a young boy from a broken home who wanders through three different lands.  In the Land of Possibility, Carlos imagines what it would be like to meet his father.

Carlos battles ninja mice and robot soldiers.  Poos said in the six years of performing Hip Hop Nutcracker, it has been tweaked every year to stay in line with current struggles. 

“Hip Hop Nutcracker is a living document.  It is a moving narrative to our growth as well,” she said.

This year, “Mother Ginger” has been replaced by “Teacher Ginger”, calling to attention the crucial role teachers have in the lives of their students, particularly ones like Carlos, as well as the struggle for teacher funding in the state.

Before her current career teaching dance at the University of Central Oklahoma, Poos worked for Oklahoma City Public Schools.  She said “Carlos” has a connection to a real Carlos, a student of hers at Douglas High School in 1999.

“There was just something about him.  He was getting into alot of trouble at the time, but I saw something deep in him that wanted to do good,” Poos said.

“The character of Carlos is a representation of kids who have that same grit to not only survive in their circumstances but to thrive,” she said.

The RACE Dance Company is celebrating a decade of bringing professional dance to Oklahoma City.  Poos founded the company to give young dancers an outlet for their artistic passions after college.

“If they are not moving to a coast, once they graduate, they just stop dancing,” Poos said.

Poos said her goal is for Hip Hop Nutcracker to become a new tradition, an annual alternative option for family fun during the holidays. 

Shows are Dec. 8 at 8 pm and Dec. 9 at 2 pm and 8 pm.  Tickets are $20.

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