Clara’s Dream: A Jazz Nutcracker

November 16th, 2000 by Adam

Betsy Cheney

November 14, 2000

Plymouth State College and Friends of the Arts present Clara’s Dream: a jazz nutcracker at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 3, at the Silver Cultural Arts Center.

Clara’s Dream is a sophisticated and offbeat new jazz and tap production that celebrates the American art of jazz by transforming a familiar dance classic, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, into a jazz and tap extravaganza. Clara’s Dream riffs on the original story line, adding updated and inspired twists, and dance styles from swing and lindy to funk and Latin.

Under the artistic direction of New England tap dancer and producer Drika Overton and the musical direction of award-winning composer Paul Arslanian, the production is a collaboration of dancers and musicians, inspired by the Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn jazz arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s work.

Clara’s Dream brings together the talents of acclaimed dancers and choreographers Brenda Bufalino, Dean Diggins, John Hilberman, Jeannie Hill and Drika Overton. In addition to making references to the classic, and playing off Ellington/Strayhorn arrangments, Arslanian has composed and arranged original segments to highlight each choreographer’s style.

The cast also features a six-piece jazz band, African dancer and drummer Sekou Sylla, and dancers from the community, including Christine Hounsell and members of the Youth Jazz Dance Project.

Clara’s Dream is a production of the Portsmouth Percussive Dance Festival and is supported in part by grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Greater Piscataqua Community Foundation.

Tickets for the performance are $17-20 . Discounts are available for students and seniors, and a dinner theater option is offered. Call the PSC box office, (603) 535-ARTS or
1-800-779-3869 for tickets or information. If special accommodations are needed, please call in advance of the performance.

[Ed notes: The BBC is making a documentary about the American art of tap dance and will film a segment of Clara’s Dream in Portsmouth at the end of this month. The documentary, which will feature acclaimed tap artists Savion Glover, Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown and Brenda Bufalino, will look at the many strands of the art of tap dance. Bufalino is a featured dancer in Clara’s Dream.
Interviews with founder Drika Overton can be arranged. Call 207-439-2712.]