The Urban Nutcracker brings diverse take on classic story

The Urban Nutcracker brings diverse take on classic story

BOSTON — A familiar sound but a different take on a classic. Dance has often been described as a way to bridge across all kinds of divides. Tony Williams says his personal story led him to create The Urban Nutcracker.

"That first show I didn't know what to expect and [it] was sold out and the applause was thunderous," he said. "There was heart and soul in that show and people responded to it."

The first show was right after 9/11. Nineteen years later, The Urban Nutcracker has become a Boston tradition, moving from a production born in a dance studio in Jamaica Plain to the stage at the Shubert.

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"You can't do something old fashioned," Williams said. "You really need to update the show and bring it into the present time."

New this year is a piece inspired by the Make Way For Ducklings story.

"I just love the storyline of that dance, of the little ducks and they're trying to get from the Charles River to the Public Garden where the swan boats are. So I love that dance," Williams said. "I hope it's going to be successful."

Ballet to hip hop, Russian dance to tap, creator and choreographer Tony Williams said this show is for and about all of us.

"We have a snowflake scene with tutus and point shoes, and then we have a prologue, which is sort of a replication of being [at] downtown crossing," Williams said. "When I talk about diversity, I talk about it from a person standpoint. I was born in Italy to an Italian white mother and a black father who was in the Army during World War II, we moved to Boston and I lived right down the street at Bromley Heath, the projects."

Williams was the first African American principal dancer at the Boston Ballet. And when he retired he came back to JP to open his school.

"When I had those kids in my school and I wanted to do sort of a modern version, I said, I really need to embrace diversity," he said. "We tend to attract a very diverse audience […] because they're looking at the diversity on stage with the cast. And then we have diversity within the dances themselves.

"There's nothing separate about people."

The Urban Nutcracker opens December 19th.