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The Hip Hop Nutcracker | East Bay Express

NewsThe Hip Hop Nutcracker | East Bay Express

Develop into a believer within the energy of affection with rapper and MC Kurtis Blow

If the thought of dragging your self to see an annual Nutcracker ballet makes you need to scream, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is for you. If the normal model has you hankering to tear down any tidy-tight excessive hair buns inside arm’s attain and defiantly shake your bum within the face of excellent quadruple pirouettes and incessantly lengthy Act I lounge celebration scenes, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is for you. There’s no want for a sleep alarm to remain awake both. Consider it.

Don’t simply take our phrase for it: Hearken to Kurtis Walker, finest often called rapper Kurtis Blow, a founding father of hip-hop and the MC of the touring manufacturing that lands Nov. 17 at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre. The present has Blow warming up the viewers and establishing the time, date and place—Nineteen Eighties, New 12 months’s Eve, New York Metropolis—with a medley of hip-hop songs from that period, together with, appropriately, his “New 12 months’s Eve.” 

He returns on the finish to shut the Nutcracker with “The Breaks,” successful single on the eponymous launch that turned the primary rap album to be licensed as a gold file and led to Blow signing his debut contract with main label Mercury Information. Since that point, he has gone on to launch 10 albums over 11 years; associate with The Fats Boys, Run DMC and others; seem on tv’s Dancing With The Stars and SportsCenter and within the movie Krush Groove; obtain point out in Get Wealthy or Die Tryin’, Infamous and Straight Outta Compton; and function affiliate producer on the Netflix sequence The Get Down.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker is the story of two younger folks falling in love, and their love creates particular magic that may defeat evil,” Blow says in a telephone interview. “I set the tone and the tempo for that spirit and that message to be communicated. The story takes place on the peak of the vacation season, with a brand new 12 months ushering in; it’s 1980. I feel again to folks singing these old-school hip-hop songs that have been so sizzling and related throughout these years. 

“We simply have a complete lotta enjoyable and get ready. The rationale I do what I do is to encourage folks to think about this hip-hop Nutcracker as not simply one other Nutcracker. We would like folks to make noise, scream, clap loud, get up and yell, let your hair down, dance, let your self go.”

Blow likens the present’s power to that of an athletic occasion and the viewers to avid sports activities followers. “What occurs at a baseball sport when your favourite participant hits a house run? Increase! It’s everybody leaping up within the air, they usually scream and yell and make a complete lotta noise. They make quite a lot of noise when Lebron James slam dunks. Increase! It’s that very same pleasure we need to convey. We all know that’s the epitome of leisure. We would like everybody to really feel that love and that zeal. It’s the vacation season; let’s have a great time,” he says.

If it’s a good time, The Hip Hop Nutcracker can be an instance of great musicology; spectacular breakdancing; high-quality, massive scale, proscenium theater choreography; and state-of-the-art digital and video know-how. Along with Blow, the present created in 2013 by director/choreographer Jennifer Weber and author Mike Fitelson, a local of Oakland, showcases roughly one dozen fantastically gifted dancers; an on-stage DJ (DJ Boo); imagery that features graffiti, a digital subway system and extra; and an onstage electrical violinist.

After which, there may be the modernized replace of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s basic story from conventional nineteenth century Germany: the 1816 quick story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The Hip Hop Nutcracker’s libretto has Maria/Clara and the Nutcracker Prince in a reimagined, dreamed, city model journey battling mice, indulging within the land of sweets, having fun with divertissements delivered by mechanical dolls, Chinese language puppets, Russian people dancers (observe the precursor to breakdancing strikes just like the windmill and occasional grinder) and different spectacles. Finally, the younger couple emerges from the dream to discover a new 12 months starting, new revelations and renewed hope for the longer term.

Topping all of the positivity, up to date narrative and comfortable, kinetic, cathartic launch as a result of dancers’ infectious, meticulous dancing, is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s marvelous classical music rating. Inarguably, it has lengthy been one of many highlights of the 130-year-old ballet initially choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov that was at its debut not successful. As admirable as was the rating, the choreography was removed from revelatory. 

The ballet gained reputation in the US solely after the New York Metropolis Ballet gave its first annual efficiency of George Balanchine’s reworked staging in 1954. (Smithsonian journal stories Balanchine drew the thought to create his personal model from a full-length model introduced in San Francisco in 1944 that did not launch widespread help.) Televised variations elevated the enchantment in subsequent a long time. Ballet firms have lengthy staked their monetary viability on the annual manufacturing.

Blow says Tchaikovsky’s music is a gold mine for the form of fusion throughout genres he has pursued all through his profession. “I’ve banked on a profession on that ideology or this competition: that hip-hop, this style, is strictly that: music. It’s music in the identical means classical music and different genres are (at their essence) music. 

“My first album (The Beats), I had the thought of the fusion of the genres. I used to be the primary to do rock n’ roll rap, the primary to do nation rap on a music known as ‘Approach Out West.’ I did the primary blues hip-hop music, the primary reggae rap with the Fats Boys in 1983. So I’ve all the time had the imaginative and prescient to fuse hip-hop within the idea of funky beats and raps and flows with different genres of music. That is why the hip-hop with classical music that’s the fundamentals of all music collectively works so unbelievably. Together with the breakdancing? Wow, that’s The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”

Blow loves to speak music concept. The fundamentals of mastering music concept contain understanding the best way to rely beats, bars, measures, time signatures. “In spite of everything of that, you must know what devices you’re utilizing,” he says. “We be taught by way of or by classical music what devices are, from woodwinds to strings to brass. 

“There’s one thing I like to speak about: the Circle of Keys that’s the science of sound. Hip-hop is extensively often called the innate love of the drum as a result of you must have a cool beat to put in writing a hip-hop music. The fusion of that hip-hop funky beat and classical music and different varieties has been my entire profession.”

However it hasn’t been his entire life, which in 2017 turned the wrong way up. It’s an extended story, he warns, earlier than rendering an abbreviated “Cliff Notes” model. “It was a course of of 4 coronary heart operations, beginning in 2017 after I went into cardiac arrest. It was not a coronary heart assault. I went straight to the guts stopping. That’s the finish results of a unhealthy, unhealthy, coronary heart assault. The guts stops, proper? I truly died for 5 minutes. 

“The police gave me a defibrillator therapy. I got here again after which had 4 operations. The final surgical procedure was a full coronary heart transplant. I moved on it after the physician got here to me and mentioned, you’re not gonna be round for one more 12 months, so you need to think about this coronary heart transplant.”

Having developed coronary heart failure between surgical procedures and reaching a call level in 2019, the hurried seek for a donor started. “I used to be lucky it didn’t take too lengthy to obtain a 34-year-old coronary heart. I had the transplant Dec. 7, 2020. It’s been two years now, and I’m so grateful and grateful. There have been prayers from household and my spouse of 38 years, Shirley Walker, who’s been my prayer warrior. 

“It was a miracle of blessing to nonetheless be right here to do that Hip Hop Nutcracker. I’m a strolling, dwelling, respiration testimony of the facility of God and the truth that God remains to be within the miracle enterprise. What God did for me, He can do for you. Once I get up within the morning, I’m so grateful to be right here to breathe air.”

He pauses the flood of appreciative phrases lengthy sufficient to breathe that treasured air, then says why a Hip Hop Nutcracker is what the world wants now. “I can paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. when he mentioned, ‘Any time of day is the correct time to do the correct factor.’ This is among the missions of hip-hop: to teach and empower our youth. It’s certainly one of our obligations as elders and leaders to inform the reality in love and help one another. 

“Popping out of COVID, it’s extra wanted now, though we’ve all the time wanted to unite and love one another. We have to promote and encourage everybody to go together with the idea of loving one another.”

As he contemplates the “rebirth” represented by his new, younger coronary heart and audiences coming to the present, he thinks usually about sound and the methods wherein it’s the origin of life. “It has been round for the reason that starting of time. Our our bodies are all rhythmic sound in movement. We’re matter that issues. From start, our our bodies are made up of sound, power, rhythm, kinetics. Life is a mixture of every little thing round us: the air, water, earth and the gasses. It’s all in movement.”

Blow says to be born is to win the race, and in that, we are able to discover unity and correlations to music. “So as to be born, all of us needed to win the race to hook up with that Y chromosome. Sperms need to journey up the uterus and join. That’s how life is created, with movement and rhythm that carries it. It’s sound and movement that nice philosophers say classifies life. 

“Even the alignment of the 9 planets that journey across the solar are in perpetual movement. And every is a special distance from the solar, and it takes them totally different quantities of time to journey across the solar in a single 12 months. All of those velocities of every of those 9 planets are so excellent you’ll be able to measure them and it may be charted like a graph. In music, that’s known as a employees. The wavelengths and distances (between music notes) are so excellent they are often measured. Their relationship to one another might be categorised because the origins of music and a musical employees. And simply as we’re all people, every observe has a special sound when it travels.”

On the horizon past the Nutcracker for Blow is broadcasting his hip-hop message of affection and universality in his roles as an ordained minister and chief of the Hip Hop Church, co-founder and board chairman of the Common Hip Hop Museum within the Bronx, NY, and an advocate for integrating hip-hop into the curriculum of upper schooling tutorial establishments and conservatories.

“Training is necessary right now as a result of the music business, popping out of the pandemic and even earlier than that, has been ruthless and unfair to artists. Artists want to come back collectively and educate one another of the downfalls and pitfalls and about publishing, copyright, possession, honest wages, honest royalties. To this finish, now we have shaped the Common Hip Hop Museum you’ll be able to take a look at (uhhh.org), or the Hip Hop Alliance, the primary union shaped in partnership with SAG-AFTRA (sagaftra.org). 

“Hip-hop tradition is significant and wanted in a time when it appears the world is the wrong way up. From the pandemic to wars, inequities, injustices and all people speaking? We have to come collectively and attempt to get again to these outdated days when every little thing was protected. When was that? (He laughs, nicely conscious of sounding idealistic, maybe even romanticizing the previous, however continues.) Let’s promote the thought we’re all one huge humanity household. Love somebody.”

Backstage in the course of the present, Blow steps out of the highlight. The solid operates like a household, cheering one another on and, in his phrases, “loving on one another.” He refers back to the dancers as his B-Boy and B-Lady Dream Crew. “They don’t want a critique from me. I do know they’re going to do their finest. I say, ‘Man, I see you doing all of your factor on the market. Wow.’ There’s no want for pep discuss or something like that as a result of they’re so proficient in their very own proper. They’ve unbelievable totally different types. It’s an superior factor to see. The fruition of it: It’s unbelievable.”

As he brings the night to a detailed, Blow is intent on one final message, yet another alternative to ship folks out of the theater with jubilant spirits and energized our bodies and minds. “That is what I convey to the Nutcracker: that we needs to be grateful we’re right here, collectively. Try to be feeling good inside. It’s the time of 12 months you need to seize maintain of pals, household and family members and say, thanks for placing up with me all 12 months lengthy. We would like our audiences to see the present and go away feeling revitalized.”

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