Tchaikovsky’s Masterpiece Performed by Nimbus Dancers & Students
By Sally Deering
With just a week away, Nimbus Dance Works in Jersey City spends most of its time rehearsing choreography, preparing Sugarplum costumes and dusting off Christmas scenery as it prepares for its 8th annual production of JC Nutcracker. The show opens Tues, Dec. 12 at the Frank R. Conwell auditorium in Middle School No. 4 on Bright Street in Jersey City, and stars a cast of 125 – all Nimbus dancers and local Jersey City students.
The magic of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the story of two kids at Christmas and their toys that come to life, can give even grumpy old Scrooge the holiday spirit. JC Nutcracker, the Nimbus version, tells the story of two kids who hit the streets of Jersey City to find their Christmas wonder. It’s the classic story re-imagined Jersey-style.
With music by Tchaikovsky, the production is directed by Samuel Pott, Artistic Director of Nimbus Dance Works.
JC Nutcracker has become extremely popular, Pott says. The story, written by playwright Alysia Souder, follows two children, one poor and one rich, who are friends and meet up and have an adventure before the holiday tree-lighting. JC Nutcracker’s cast of 125 includes professional dancers from the company and students from its dance school and Public Schools No. 3, 4, 16, and 41 in Jersey City. Not all 125 dancers are on stage at the same time, Pott says, the students rotate in and out of their roles.
“JC Nutcracker features those aspects of The Nutcracker that are magical for kids,” Pott says. “The toys that come to life, the sugarplum fairies, the rat king, and of course, the music score by Tchaikovsky – we’ve included those aspects, but we’ve also woven in other parts that make it specific to Jersey City and give it local flavor. Mayor Frank Hague makes an appearance. Instead of toy soldiers, they’re like B-boy, B-girl break dancer soldiers. There are references to streets in Jersey City, and the Statue of Liberty makes an appearance.”
This is the 14th year for Nimbus Dance Works and Pott says, there have been highs and lows. Space has been a major concern as well as funding.
“Coming up with funding is a constant challenge,” Pott says. “Things are changing for the arts in Jersey City. People are realizing the arts are an essential part of what we like about Jersey City, and what gives character to the community here. If it continues to get so expensive that nobody else can live here, then it dries up, and people are seeing that’s what they don’t want. We’re seeing more help from city government and companies here who want to support what we’re doing.”
Nimbus Dance Works just moved into a new space on Newark Ave and Barrow Street, the old Brick House Gym, Pott says. It’s a big space with two dance studios, and performance and art exhibition spaces.
“It’s been great for the company,” Pott says. “We have performances there. Smaller shows.”
JC Nutcracker’s mix of professional and student dancers is part of the company’s mission to give children a professional experience in dance. Pott says: “It’s at the heart of what we do. Producing professional excellent performances, but also weaving them into the life of the community of Jersey City. That’s what makes it meaningful for me. We’re reaching out and impacting people from all over Jersey City, and giving everybody the opportunity to connect with dance, come together and be part of something special.”