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'Hot Chocolate' makes history as first all-Black cast performing cultural twist on 'The Nutcracker'

Black Nutcracker
Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 30, 2021

CINCINNATI — Coming soon is a first for Cincinnati: An all-Black cast performing a cultural spin on the classic holiday production of "The Nutcracker."

The performance, called "Hot Chocolate," is being put on by the Revolution Dance Theatre at the Aronoff Center in December.

Members of the all-Black cast say preparing for the production has given them a feeling of belonging.

“Now I just feel like I’m not the odd one out,” said Juliana Kinamore, the youngest dancer performing in "Hot Chocolate."

“I don’t have to look over my shoulder or be cautious of what I say or what I do,” said Mimi Wright, who plays Sugar Plum in the production.

Wright says she feels like she’s getting to be her authentic self on the stage and off.

"Hot Chocolate" makes its debut Saturday, December 10, at the Aronoff, the first time a Black version of the dance will be performed in Cincinnati.

David Choate, Producing Artistic Director for Revolution Dance Theatre, says the company is the first Black dance company to be offered residency at the center.

“You’ll see Black people just being Black,” Choate said. “The party scene, the line dancing. We’ve written original music for this, live singing and a little soulful sound all in the first act. And then for those traditional ballet lovers we will transition to the Tchaikovsky score in Act 2.”

Choate got his inspiration for the play from Debbie Allen, who performs a similar production on the West Coast.

“It’s beautiful to see and be a part of,” said Garrett Steagall, who plays the father in the production. “Most of the time people go elsewhere to experience opportunities like this. L.A., New York. Let’s bring it here. Let’s do it here.”

Choate and the dancers hope the production becomes a family tradition.

“This is life-changing,” said Steagall. “Literally, we are changing the narrative. So people know that there are people out there that look like you that are doing ballet as well.”

You can buy tickets to "Hot Chocolate" here.