OCCC students will present a hip-hop interpretation of the holiday classic.
The first time Chris Shepard saw “RACE’s Hip Hop Nutcracker” he knew he had to be a part of it.
“Literally, that next weekend, I was part of RACE Dance Company,” he recalled with a grin.
Now marking six years as a member of the Oklahoma City professional hip-hop, contemporary and jazz dance company, Shepard is playing for the second time the title role in RACE’s high-energy adaptation of the Christmas classic.
The seventh annual “RACE’s Hip Hop Nutcracker” will feature a cast of nearly 150 dancers at four performances Saturday and Sunday at Oklahoma City Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater. Along with the 15 professionals in RACE Dance Company and 24 dancers from Teen and Junior RACE, about 100 high-school students from eight Oklahoma City Public Schools will take the stage for the holiday show.
“For the company, it’s really an investment in what dance is gonna be in the future . ... We want to be out there and working with those kids,” said Hui Cha Poos, executive director of RACE, which stands for Radical Application of Creative Energy. “And they have access to professional dancers. A lot of kids, especially in the lower-served communities, don’t feel like their dreams are accessible. But if they have someone right there in front of them that they can talk to about things in their future, then it makes it a little bit attainable.”
Students involved in dance programs at Southeast, U.S. Grant, Douglass, John Marshall, Northwest Classen and Capitol Hill high schools, Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High School and Classen School of Advance Studies will perform in Poos’ adaptation of the classical ballet. The show melds Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s familiar score with popular music, including Alicia Key’s “Superwoman,” James Brown’s “Super Bad” and the “Super Mario Bros.” theme.
Starting in September, RACE dancer/choreographers work with their designated high schools on a weekly basis to prepare for the yuletide show.
“It’s always really awesome to have guest choreographers come in and teach you a piece,” said Capitol Hill junior Cielo Pallares, who is performing in her second “RACE’s Hip Hop Nutcracker.” “I like meeting the different people … and being with the dance professionals, it really teaches you a lot. I feel like it opens doors for you.”
Chris Shepard dances during a Nov. 29 rehearsal for “RACE’s Hip Hop Nutcracker” at RACE Dance Company, 11 N Lee Ave., in Oklahoma City. Shepard plays the show’s title character.