For the past few years we've taken the kids to see the Nutcracker, and every year we wind up seeing a completely different show. This year we were invited to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre to check out the City Ballet of Los Angeles' "The Nutcracker Swinga," featuring the music of both Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington. Here's the synopsis:
"The Nutcracker Swings" is CBLA’s tribute to the classic tale of the Nutcracker. Set in 1942 during WWII in Hancock Park and the iconic Cocoanut Grove nightclub, the audience will be swept away to another world while dancers swing to the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington. In this version of the classic family ballet, Maria, the heroine falls for the leading man, Jim, a WWII hero who gives Maria the Nutcracker doll which kicks off a whirlwind journey of Christmas Wonder.
Infusing the stuffy Nutcracker with jazz gave the show some pop, but the excellent choreography was the star of the show. A number featuring an army of mice battling it out with soldiers perked the kids up. We also appreciated the show's short running time, clocking in at less than 90 minutes.
The City Ballet of LA, led by former American Ballet Theatre dancer and Los Angeles native Robyn Gardenhire, prides itself on diversity and also offers free or low-cost training to kids from less affluent parts of the city.
"The Nutcracker Swings" is an annual event staged by the City Ballet of Los Angeles -- it's worth checking out next year. Some pics: