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Dance students perform alongside swing band in twist on Christmas classic

Friday, December 16, 2011

Click on image above to view more photos from The Jazz Nutcracker.

On Dec. 9, Point Park University’s Conservatory Dance Company opened the curtain to reveal The Jazz Nutcracker in the Rockwell Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. This is not your father’s Nutcracker. Sexier and jazzier than any version seen before and with a fresh twist and new choreography, the dancers bring to life a whole sultry slew of characters.

Point Park senior dance major Sarah Zielinski dances the role of Clara in this year’s production.

“As a giddy young girl, Clara can't wait for Christmas, and I admit I'm exactly like that giddy girl who simply can't wait to dance in this Christmas show,” Zielinski said.

Benjamin Belhumeur, sophomore dance major, dances alongside Zielinski as Drosselmeyer. After performing in numerous versions of the famous dance, he said he is excited about this one in particular.

“I am excited to see the audience's reactions to such a unique and different approach to the typical Nutcracker,” Belhumeur said.

The director for this year’s production is Doug Bentz, creator of The Jazz Nutcracker. Bentz is a dance professor and also worked with Point Park students on this dance when The Jazz Nutcracker was revived at the Playhouse in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Many of the dancers said they look to Bentz as more than just a director, but as a mentor, as well.

“It is a very exciting experience. Doug sees potential in many students and pushes them to reach that and much further. He has been very encouraging to me as a person and a performer,” said Belhumeur. “He also trusts his cast to make smart choices. He loves for a collaboration of ideas to also create the final picture.” 

The Benny Benack Band plays live alongside the dancers at each performance.

“It adds an entire level of energy to the performance,” said Zielinski.

Overall, the performers said they have had a great time performing in The Jazz Nutcracker this year.

“The whole production is the best experience,” said Belhumeur. “I can't separate a favorite part because it truly is an overall experience.”

Article by Kayleigh Smith, sophomore advertising and public relations major 

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