Friday, January 2, 2015
Photos and text by Stacie Joy
The East Village Dance Project (EVDP) at 55 Avenue C invited me for a rehearsal for its alternative, East Village-based adaptation of "The Nutcracker" and it’s marvelous!
I watched kids of all ages (well, ages 4 to 17, 25 of whom are paired with 25 ballet/dance professionals) work closely with director and superstar choreographer Martha Tornay while codirector Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski educated me about the piece and its significance to the area.
This nontraditional take on the holiday mainstay includes a magical journey through iconic locations such as Tompkins Square Park, CBGB, a tenement apartment, a local community garden and a neighborhood favorite – Economy Candy.
Most of the kids are local (about 95 percent are from the neighborhood), and consider this a "gift to the community." Its conception came soon after Superstorm Sandy caused so much damage to the area, including taking out the boiler and the electricity at the dance space.
Even without lights and dependent on space heaters and heavy clothing, the students got together and performed that year. They begged their teacher to stage "The Nutcracker" as a way to lift their spirits and give back to the community.
Ms. Tornay finally agreed, with the provision that they do a nonstandard, community-based adaptation. And so "The Shell-Shocked Nut" was born!
The nonprofit arts-services EVDP welcomes all students without consideration of their financial situation or economic means. It receives part of the Charlotte Ruby Cantor scholarship fund and also is running a woefully underfunded crowd-sourcing campaign if you are interested in lending a helping hand.
"The Shell-Shocked Nut" will be staged at La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theatre tonight through Sunday. Please see the website for times and tickets.
Special thanks to Bonnie Stein, executive director, for reaching out and coordinating the coverage.