‘Nut’ again!: ‘Brooklyn Nutcracker’ returns, better than ever

‘Nut’ again!: ‘Brooklyn Nutcracker’ returns, better than ever
Julie Lemberger

It’s a new hometown holiday tradition!

A uniquely Brooklyn take on a classic ballet will return to the borough next month, bigger and better than ever. “The Brooklyn Nutcracker,” opening in Fort Green’s Irondale Center on Dec. 7, moves the beloved holiday story to the County of Kings, and in its second year, the show has a larger cast, a longer run, and a more diverse collection of dances, said its choreographer.

“Every year we integrate dancers more and more, and somehow make even more connections between the different types of dances we use,” said Lynn Parkerson, artistic director of Brooklyn Ballet. “It’s not your traditional Nutcracker, but it’s very sweet and different and reflects Brooklyn.”

The show begins in Dutch Breukelen in the 1600s, moving through the years to present-day Flatbush Avenue.

The 90-minute program features about 50 dancers, all performing to the traditional Tchaikovsky score, but using Middle Eastern belly-dancing, Native American hoop dances, Afro-Caribbean moves, and pop and lock and flex dancing in addition to traditional ballet performances.

But there has been no clash between the show’s contemporary and classically trained dancers — instead, the two camps have managed to complement and echo each other, according to Parkerson.

“They’re not ballet-trained and we’re not trained in their [dance styles], but there’s something funny in coming together — there are some things we do and certain shapes they do that are similar to us, and they like to imitate ballet and our body movements,” she said.

Brooklyn Ballet’s diverse take on “The Nutcracker” makes it stand out from the many, many other versions happening in New York, Parkerson said, and she wanted to reflect the borough’s cultural variety. She realized that the ballet’s loose story made a perfect fit for the company’s original approach.

“We’re a ballet company in a big city that has very classical Nutcrackers, and I really thought ‘If we’re a Brooklyn ballet what would ours be like?,’ ” she said. “Ours is very unique and expressive, and the Nutcracker is a perfect ballet to do that with because you don’t have to follow it exactly — it has room for imagination and exploration.”

Parkerson hopes that Brooklyn Ballet’s fresh and original take will bring a new audience to the show.

“Even if you’ve never heard of any other ballet, you’ve heard of ‘The Nutcracker,’ and you might want to go to see it if you heard it had different lively dances and different kinds of people — it’s not a one -dimensional show,” she said.

The performance sold out its short run at Brooklyn Museum last year, and Parkerson wants to make it a Brooklyn mainstay.

“Last year the show was so well received and audiences went so wild for it. We think we’re going to make this an annual Brooklyn tradition,” she said.

“The Brooklyn Nutcracker” at Irondale Center [85 S. Oxford St. between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0146, www.brooklynballet.org]. Dec. 7 at 7 pm; Dec. 8–16, Mon, Wed–Sat at 7:30 pm; plus 3 pm performances on Dec. 9, 15, and 16. $25–$97.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Modernizing a classic: “The Brooklyn Nutcracker” is a contemporary take on the classic ballet, playing at Irondale in Fort Greene Dec. 7–16.
Julie Lemberger