Ericka Blount Danois sat down with hip-hop icon Kurtis Blow to talk about his role in the upcoming Christmas play, The Hip-Hop Nutcracker.
Growing up in a house full of books and records, there are many memories I have of sitting on my father’s lap listening to music in his headphones. The early years are remembrances of an eclectic mix of Chaka Khan and Sun Ra, Rod Stewart, Davy DMX and Parliament, Betty Davis, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Chuck Brown. But if there was one record that could easily help classify me with OCD, and that was Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. If that didn’t classify me, then my memorizing of every line in the classic movie, Beat Street, would. So, when I heard that there’s a reimagining of The Nutcracker with hip-hop in The Hip-Hop Nutcracker, which began touring the country on November 9, I was super curious about this cultural mash-up.
The play has been adapted to modern times by Mike Fitelson and takes place in ”Uptown, U.S.A.” in the year of our Lord, 1984, on New Year’s Eve, rather than Christmas. Choreographer Jennifer Weber has dancers performing a variety of styles, including C-walking, breakdancing, krumping, and Harlem shaking. As Tchaikovsky’s score plays, DJ Boo accents the performance with live music along with violinist Mathew Silver.
Kurtis Blow, who opens up the play as the otherworldly MC, was highly instrumental in bringing The Hip-Hop Nutcracker to the masses. On the eve of the show’s New York date, the hip-hop icon spoke to @Okayplayer about participating in the project.