‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker’ gives Springfield new spin on a holiday classic

Other than both being musical genres, hip hop and classical couldn’t seem more different. One musical will send a classic ballet on a breakdancing head spin in the ultimate mash-up of a beloved seasonal favorite.

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” will take Tchaikovsky’s famous story and show it respect by maintaining the score while giving it a fresh vibe, led by a troupe of dancers and emceed by one of the founding fathers of the hip hop movement, Kurtis Blow, when it comes to the Clark State Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The show is presented by the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Tickets are still available.

This show is not to be confused with the Ohio Performing Arts Institute’s annual presentation of “The Nutcracker,” which will be Dec. 16-17.

Blow was a pioneer in the hip hop and rap genre, becoming the first such artist to mash-up genres including a rock and roll rap, country and western rap, reggae rap and so on. So that made him a natural choice to be the emcee of this mash-up of classical and hip hop, which he said have more similarities than people may guess.

“Music is malleable, you can shape it into any form,” he said. “That’s been my contention from the beginning.

“Classical music is the basis of music in general. You count your beats, different forms, you have woodwinds and brass, but there are still beats, bars, measures, and hip hop is inspired by the beat and the innate love of drums. That’s the connection of classical and funky.”

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Audiences will still recognize “The Nutcracker” they’re familiar with, but they will find a different energy to it. Blow said hip hop has this passion and fire to bring it into a different realm with the dancers giving 100 percent every night and inspiring the audience.

A diverse cast can broaden the audience, potentially bringing those who may not attend a regular “Nutcracker” performance or bring a new appreciation of the classic for others.

“Hip hop is for all ages, all nationalities, it brings everyone together. I see grandparents with grandchildren, with children, all I see loving this show,” said Blow.

As far back as the early 1970s, Blow saw the potential of hip hop as a music genre and studied communications in college while helping shape it along with a number of others.

“It was visionary. You could see the future potential in your face and you had to act on it. It was a new way of life to communicate in rhyme to the rhythm of the streets,” he said. “It was an honor to be part of it, and there were so many others. We changed the world.”

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He sees the genre continuing and thinks “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” is a unique way to bring it to a wider audience.

“This is a holiday experience for the whole family where love conquers all,” Blow said. “There’s talented young people in this cast, and when you come to the show, you’ll leave feeling revitalized with the spirit of love and joy to spread around your family, your town, your community. It’s all about love.”

HOW TO GO

What: “The Hip Hop Nutcracker”

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, Kuss Auditorium, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Admission: $25-60

More info: pac.clarkstate.edu/shows/2022-2023-season/

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