Nutcracker in the Lower: Taking Ballet to the Streets

Photo credit: Urban Ballet Theater.

Editor’s note: Today we’re pleased to welcome New York writer Royal Young as a regular columnist on The Lo-Down. Royal contributes literary coverage to Interview Magazine and the new web site Holy Diver. Young recently completed “Fame Shark,” his memoir.  After six years living in exile (in Brooklyn), this Lower East Side native is back in his natural habitat, rediscovering the old neighborhood.

As a kid in the early ‘90s, I spent my time haunting the halls of Henry Street Settlement and the backstage at the Abrons Arts Center, chasing the creative energy that pulsed through those corridors.  Now that energy has exploded on the Abrons’ stage with the Urban Ballet Theatre presenting its 10th anniversary run of “Nutcracker in the Lower.”  A modern, Lower East Side take on the classic Christmas tale, this urban Nutcracker is bursting with life and longing.  Following Clara, a lonely young girl whose father has disappeared, leaving her only a collection of soldier style dolls, the colorful production whirls into fantasy when she falls asleep beneath a patchwork, glittering pine tree.

“Nutcracker in the Lower” Returns For 10th Season Tomorrow Night

A holiday tradition returns to the Lower East Side tomorrow night. It’s the 10th anniversary year of the Urban Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker in the Lower” at the Abrons Arts Center. The hip-hop/African dance/flamenco-infused/krumping version of the holiday classic takes Tchaikovsky’s original score, adding many multi-cultural twists. Ticket prices start at $20. Performances run through December 4th. Check out the Abrons Art Center web site for more details.


Nutcracker in the Lower Celebrates 9th Year at Abrons

Urban Ballet Theater‘s hip-hop/African dance/flamenco-infused/krumping version of The Nutcracker returns to Abrons Arts Center on Saturday for it’s ninth year. The production keeps Tchaikovsky’s original score largely intact but enhances it with contemporary, inner city beats from the Lower East Side, creating a unique take on the classic.

(Sponsored) Abrons Arts Center Fall Classes

All sorts of people take classes at the Abrons Arts Center. This month we’ve gotten to know some of them — including a Lower East Side mom and her 8-year old daughter.  Today, in our final profile, we meet Timothy (left) and Adam, who have both been part of the Abrons family for more than a decade.

Timothy, 20, lives in Brooklyn but he attended P.S. 42 on Hester Street. He’s been involved in theatrical productions, ballet and music. He performed in Nutcracker in the Lower and has been part of Abrons’ immersive Steampunk Haunted House. Adam, 17, is a Lower East Side resident and a senior at LaGuardia High School.  His first experience at Abrons was in a piano class and from there he moved on to violin instruction, ballet and dance ensemble. Adam’s also had the chance to choreograph his own performances.

Tim and Adam both say they love the personal attention they get from instructors at Abrons. It’s the kind of direct interaction that’s impossible, even at an arts-oriented school like Laguardia.  They have big dreams — attending a conservatory, perhaps performing on Broadway.  Abrons staff have helped them both pursue their passions.

The Abrons Arts Center training program offers classes for all ages and skill levels in dance, music, theater, and the visual arts.  Registration for the fall semester open until the end of the month.  You can look over the many course offerings on the Abrons Arts Center’s web site.  Register online or call 212-598-0400, ext. 200.