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BY HAYLEY BRIDGEWATER

Winter is finally here, and with it the arrival of a multitude of holiday traditions near and dear to us all. As our neighborhoods are slowly being transformed by ropes of twinkling lights, candles and pine, I can’t help but reminisce about the Decembers of my youth.

Of course, I loved the special treats, songs and moments to catch up with friends and family, but as a performer, I knew the season also meant hauntingly beautiful productions of “A Christmas Carol,” losing myself in the strains of Handel’s “Messiah,” and repeated viewings of one of the most family-friendly and oft-attended ballets, “The Nutcracker.”

I have always loved “The Nutcracker,” and if the multitudes of productions done each year around the globe are any indication, I am certainly not the only one. “The Nutcracker” has become such a regular part of the holiday season that many dance companies seek to offer new and fresh interpretations of this classic. New York will see many versions this year, ranging from traditional to modern to hip-hop, and we here in western Queens are fortunate to host a version every bit as diverse as our beloved borough.

JP Dance Group, led by Artistic Director Julie Petrusak, is a contemporary dance company dedicated to promoting diversity in dance and aiming to make the art of dance accessible to all corners of our city. Founded in 2013 and based in Harlem, JP Dance Group provides free dance performances to 2,500 children and seniors each year though a partnership with Riverbank State Park’s Young People Performance Series. This season, JP Dance Group is expanding its reach by bringing a unique and exciting production to Long Island City, aptly titled “Dance the World Nutcracker Festival.”  In an effort to highlight many forms of cultural dance from around the world, Petrusak is showcasing a variety of dance groups from around New York.

Set to Duke Ellington’s jazz arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” Act 1 opens on a hoppin’ holiday party in a New York City brownstone at the height of the roaring ‘20s. At the party, Clara receives a nutcracker doll from her mysterious Aunt Drossa Myer. Little does she know that the doll has a magical spell cast upon it. Later that night, the Nutcracker conjures a magical snowstorm that carries Clara on a magical adventure to the 1922 World’s Fair in Rio De Janiero. In Act 2, the World’s Fair, audiences will be treated to performances by a host of New York City’s cultural dance companies.

 

Program A (Tuesday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m./Friday Dec. 17, 8 p.m.)

GORANA Bulgarian Folk Dance Company – Bulgarian Folk Dance

Pei-Rong Wu – Chinese Fan Dance

NylaPhoenix – Middle Eastern Belly Dance

Ajna Dance – Semi-classical Indian/Bollywood

 

Program B (Wednesday, Dec. 16, 8 p.m./Saturday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.)

Yang Wang – Chinese Folk Dance

Danse Xpressions Dance Co – African and Haitian Dance

Reaction Dance Company – Bollywood Fusion

 

Program C (Thursday, Dec. 18, 8 p.m./Sunday, Dec. 20, 3 p.m.)

Harika Chatlapalli – Kuchipudi Classical Indian Dance

FIYAH Dancehall Theater – Jamaican Dancehall

Xochipilli Dance Ensemble – Mexican Folkloric Dance

 

When: Tuesday, Dec. 15, to Sunday, Dec. 20

Where: The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St., Long Island City, 718-392- 0722

Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 students/seniors/artists; ticket sales begin Nov. 1

Running time: Approximately 1 hour, 25 minutes, including intermission

 

For more information, including performances, educational programming, and ways to support and get involved with JP Dance Group’s mission, please consult:

 

Website: jpdancegroup.org

Facebook: JP Dance Group/Julie Petrusak

Twitter: @jpdancegroup

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