Dance companies have upcoming performances


By Ellie Seta
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When most people think of the traditional “Nutcracker,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is tutus, tiaras and men in tights. But for senior Kiersten Walter, none of these apply. Walter is a cast member of Gregory Hancock’s “Nutcracker.”

With several other “Nutcracker” productions in the Indianapolis area, all of which are classical ballet productions, Hancock’s “Nutcracker” has several unique elements that puts it in a league of its own. Unlike the classical version, Hancock’s “Nutcracker” is completely modern with a contemporary dance style and also follows a different storyline altogether. However, it still shares some relatable elements with the classical version.

“In (Hancock’s) ‘Nutcracker’, Clara (the main character) is a homeless girl and is given a nutcracker by a homeless man,” Walter said. “Instead of the traditional party scene, our show is set on the streets of Manhattan.”

In the traditional version, Clara goes to the Land of Sweets, but Walter said that in Hancock’s version, Clara travels around the world, and people of different nationalities dance for her.

“The music is very relevant to the different nations,” Walter said. “It sends a good message by incorporating different nationalities.”

Sophomore Julie Bloom, who is also in Hancock’s production, said that the music is part of what makes the show unique. “(Hancock) specifically picks out each music,” Bloom said. “He does not use the classical ‘Nutcracker’ soundtrack.”

On the other hand, Lori Schbach, a director of the Indianapolis School of Ballet, said that it is the tradition that makes the Indianapolis School of Ballet’s classical “Nutcracker” a great production.

“Our ‘Nutcracker’ is truly Indianapolis’s ‘Nutcracker’,” Schbach said. “When we combine the classical music of Tchaikovsky with the beautiful costumes and choreography, it creates a truly wonderful ballet.”

Although it is primarily a modern production, Bloom said that ballet is still applied to the Hancock’s “Nutcracker” in the choreography of Clara and the Sugar Plum fairy.

Walter said that production is unique not only because of the unique plot and music, but also because the choreography, while overseen by Hancock, is completely student taught. Also, the cast is completely made up of kids ages six to 18.

“For the most part, we use the same choreography year after year,” Walter said. “So the older (dancers) that have learned the choreography (in previous years) teach the younger (dancers).”

But perhaps the most pinnacle aspect of Hancock’s production is the overall theme of the show. Walter said that unlike the theme of the traditional “Nutcracker,” Hancock’s “Nutcracker” is much more meaningful.

“Clara begins to find love in other places,” Walter said.  Bloom also said that the theme plays a very important part of the show.

“It is about knowing that you always have family around even if you are not necessarily related to them,” Bloom said.

Bloom also said that the element of surprise plays a part in the appeal of Hancock’s “Nutcracker”.

“In the traditional ballet version you know what to expect and the basic storyline,” Bloom said. “But in (Hancock’s) you go in not knowing anything or what to expect.”

Although Schbach is affiliated with a classical ballet production, she still said that she enjoys seeing other people’s perspectives of this otherwise classical show.

Overall, Walter said that Hancock’s “Nutcracker” is a show that kids and adults of all ages will enjoy.

“It is definitely a different twist on the classical version,” Walter said. “Most people misunderstand modern (dance) and think that it is weird. But if you give it a chance it is not only more enjoyable (than the traditional), but also sends a better message.”

Indianapolis School of Ballet Nutcracker
When: Friday, Dec. 19 at 7:00 pm
Saturday Dec. 20 at 3:00 pm
Sunday Dec. 21 at 3:00 pm
Where: Scottish Rite Cathedral 650 N. Meridian in Downtown Indianapolis

Indiana Ballet Company Nutcracker
When:  December 8th, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Where: Madam Walker Theatre, 617 Indiana Avenue

Butler Ballet Nutcracker
When:  Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 6, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2 p.m.
Where: Clowes Memorial Hall

Gregory Hancock
When:  December 5-7, 2008
Where: Pike Performing Arts Center 6701 Zionsville Road

Central Indiana Dance Ensemble
When:  December 5 7:30
December 6 2:00 and 7:30
December 7 2:00
Where: Zionsville Performing Arts Center
1000 Mulberry Street
Zionsville, Indiana