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The Other Nutcracker—Meet Tapestry Dance's Twist on the Classic Story

Posted on December 9, 2019 by LONG CENTER STAFF

It’s Nutcracker season once again and, as Austin knows, that means it’s Ballet season (yay!). But add a touch of swing and jive to the classic story of Clara & her Nutcracker, and you’ve got Tapestry’s 10-season celebration of local artists and the traditional tale with Of Mice & Music – A Jazz Tap Nutcracker, running December 12th – 22nd in the Rollins Studio Theatre. Here’s an update from Artistic Director Acia Gray about this season staple.

Everyone needs to enjoy The Nutcracker during the holidays and Ballet Austin has an incredible rendition of this classic just upstairs from us! But if you have experienced this beloved ballet foundation, try Tapestry’s Austin-tatious rhythm tap and jazz spin on the beloved yuletide story this year.

This Tapestry tradition, which premiered to rave reviews ten years ago and standing ovations every season, Of Mice & Music unites the company’s professional dancers with some of its academy youth and adults who study within its multi-form dance academy to share a love for rhythm and movement that only Tapestry Dance Company can bring to the stage.

Of Mice & Music – A Jazz Tap Nutcracker is performed to a jazzed up version of the original Tchaikovsky score mixed with beloved jazz classics. This delightfully entertaining musical score is played live with some of Austin’s best jazz musicians, including Masumi Jones on drums, Austin Kimble on piano, and Michael Stevens on bass.

Tapestry Artistic Director and National Tap Hall of Famer (in addition to a premiere member of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame and recently honored by The Austin Arts Alliance), Acia Gray, takes the Drosselmeyer role from the original story as Ms. Bon Marche, a dance diva who introduces little Clara to a world of dance by giving her a pair of magical TAP SHOES. This season, the journey continues with the Mouse King (played by Jesse Berry in his forth season with the company) leading an army of tapping mice and rats in their battle against The Nutcracker, but also the premiere of Ginger, though not your grandma’s classic Mother Ginger…

Of course, the traditional second act solos, including Spanish (by Brazilian Denis Morita in his third season), Chinese (played by alumna Madeline Owens), Russian (by our Australian Jonah Ende), Arabian (played by new company member Claire Sheek from Colorado), and Marzipan (by former principal Siobhan Alexis) are brought into the world of contemporary movement and tap dance along with tap classics such as the infamous Coles Stroll by Tony Award-winning choreographer Charles “Honi” Coles, reworked into a mid-night snowfall.

“It’s been an incredible journey taking this holiday classic over the past ten seasons and adjusting for individual improvisational styles of our professional dancers from around the world,” says Gray. “As well, it’s such a joy to incorporate our dedicated adult/teen academy companies Visions In Motion and Visions in Rhythm as the Tacky Christmas Sweater party attendees.”

As mentioned above, everybody must see the traditional ballet classic, and Ballet Austin’s staging is truly one to see. However, if you’re ready for a wonderful dose of tongue-in-cheek humor with this classic and some of the best tap dancers in the world, this is a holiday tradition not to miss! Not only is Tapestry the ONLY full-time, professional repertoire tap company in the world, this production highlights some of the best jazz musicians in Austin.

“Another plus, instead of the three-act traditional production, Of Mice & Music – A Jazz Tap Nutcracker is an hour!” raves Gray. “A perfect length for families. Not to say that you won’t be wanting more…”

“If you’re looking for something Christmas’y with a touch of modern this season, look no further than Tapestry’s production Of Mice & Music!”
The Austin American Statesman

Catch Tapestry Dance Company’s Of Mice & Music – A Jazz Tap Nutcracker, opening December 12 in the Rollins Studio Theatre. You can also catch Acia Gray with John Aielli on KUTX Wednesday, December 18th.