'Nutcracker' soars; NYC dance company and Grafton dance center join to present `21st-century experience'.


Byline: Richard Duckett

When Jillian St. Germain flies over the stage of The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts tomorrow night as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the first-ever performance of "Clara's Dream: A Nutcracker Story," three thoughts will be in her mind:

"Clear head, open heart, strong body," St. Germain said.

A confluence of hearts, heads, bodies and a hybrid of different dance styles, along with aerial dance will make the production a "21st-century experience of `The Nutcracker,'" St. Germain said.

Saturday's performance (being billed as featuring "youth aerial dance performances for the first time in the history of American theatrical production") is a unique collaboration between the Hybrid Movement Company of New York City and the Dance It Up! Dance Center in Grafton. Eight Hybrid performers will be joined by 100 Dance It Up! youth dancers. Among those flying through the air will be five members of Dance It Up! ages 12 to 14, including Maddy Siraco as Clara.

"The Nutcracker" ballet comes out of the 19th century. E.T.A. Hoffmann's story of a girl, Clara, whose toy soldier nutcracker becomes transformed into a prince who takes her to the Land of Sweets, was set to music by Tchaikovsky. In the 20th century the famed George Balanchine created a version for the New York City Ballet in the 1950s that was soon being performed by ballet companies and dance schools across the United States every holiday season, and still is.

Time for an update?

In the "Clara's Dream" production, Clara, Dew Drop, Snow Flake, the Arabian Dancers, Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier fly across the stage and gently land. There will of course be lots of dancing, including classical ballet and break dancing. Spectacular visual projections will play on a giant screen.

"`The Nutcracker' is a beautiful tradition but we have so much technology and art forms that are beautiful and amazing, and different types of dancing. We wanted to adapt this tradition in a way that people can experience it and take away from it in a way that is personal to them," said St. Germain, who is also co-artistic director and co-founder of the Hybrid Movement Company. "It's a visual delight. It's a gift to our audiences, something they can relate to now."

That's everyone, young and old. Joanna Duncan, director of the ballet training program at Dance It Up! said one of the goals of the show is to make "every adult feel they went into that world of the Land of Sweets with Clara."

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