Ballet and Hip Hop Combine in Hyde Park School of Dance Nutcracker

Hyde Park School of Dance’s The Nutcracker Adds Hip Hop to the Mix December 9-11
Hyde Park School of Dance (HPSD) offers fans of ballet and hip hop its annual presentation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, featuring 175 dancers—from four-year-olds to grandparents—supported by more than 100 volunteers. Performances are December 9–11 at Mandel Hall on the University of Chicago campus, 1131 E. 57th Street, Chicago.

Staged by HPSD Founding Artistic Director August Tye, ballet mistress and choreographer at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the 90-minute narrated production follows Clara, Fritz and the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer from the family holiday party and the midnight battle with the Mouse Queen and her troops through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

This year’s performances contain a new element: a hip hop dance battle to showcase the range of dance genres HPSD offers, as well as send a message of peace—instead of battling with swords, the mouse-soldiers will use hip hop as their “weapons.”

Each year, HPSD casts one or more Chicago VIPs as the honorary Mother Ginger. This year’s guest performers will be announced shortly. Past Mother Gingers have included 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wallace Goode, Hyde Park Herald editor Daschell Phillips, Hyde Park Bank President Mike McGarry, State Representative Kimberly DuBuclet, Ray Elementary School Principal Bernadette Butler and Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell.

On Friday, December 9, HPSD performs an abridged version for more than 800 school children, many seeing their first ballet. The performance is part of HPSD’s community engagement program, STEPS (Serve, Train, Educate, Promote, Succeed).

Prior to each performance, the Pre-Ballet Holiday Show showcases 70 of HPSD’s youngest ballet students in performance.

Returning after last year’s debut, the Hyde Park School of Dance Holiday Bazaar offers an opportunity to meet characters from The Nutcracker, make holiday crafts, finish holiday shopping from the wares of local vendors and indulge in a hot chocolate bar and other treats. The Holiday Bazaar takes place Saturday, December 10 and Sunday, December 11.

Hyde Park School of Dance
Founded in 1993 as The Hyde Park School of Ballet, Hyde Park School of Dance provides opportunities for students of all ages and abilities to study, perform and create classical and contemporary dance at the highest levels of discipline and artistry. Through high quality training and performance, HPSD’s goal is to cultivate a love of dance and strength of body, mind and character that will benefit students throughout their lives. Led by Founding Artistic Director August Tye, the faculty is committed to helping children experience the empowering rewards of self-discipline, hard work and collaboration in a supportive and nurturing environment that values healthy bodies.

The Nutcracker takes place Friday, December 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 10 at 1 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, December 11 at 2 p.m. at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th Street in Chicago. Tickets, which go on sale November 2, are $33 for reserved seating (all ages); general admission tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for children ages six to 18 and students with ID and free for children younger than six (but must reserve). Tickets and information are available at 773-493-8498 or

Photo by Marc Monaghan.