By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
RACE Dance Company, Oklahoma’s first professional Jazz/Hip Hop/Contemporary group, will present its fifth annual production of the Hip Hop Nutcracker (HHN) on Saturday, December 17 at Oklahoma City Community College. The holiday show will take place at the OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center located at 7777 S May Avenue.
RACE (Radical Application of Creative Energy) show performances will be at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
The company is mentoring 90 students who will participate in the holiday production. Each student is enrolled in a dance program from one of six Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The students are from Douglass High School, Harding Fine Arts Academy John Marshall High School, Northwest Classen High School, Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High School, and U.S. Grant High Schoo.. RACE Dance members are working with the students each week leading up to the show.
“We go to teach them the choreography and fundamentals of hip-hop, but we leave knowing we’ve impacted these kids way beyond the dance floor,” said Brandi Gable, Artistic Director for RACE Dance Company. “For many of these kids, this is life changing – being able to perform in a professional setting is something they never dreamt would be possible.”
The HHN updates the family favorite Christmas performance by incorporating high-energy music, and contemporary, hip hop and jazz moves.
“For the first time ever, we’ve extended the invitation to elementary schools involved with Prairie Dance Youth Company,” said Hui Cha Poos, Executive Director of RACE Dance Company. “Attendees will be blown away by the talent these young kids possess.”
Poos says the HHN production advances RACE’s mission by bringing social awareness and change through dance performances and education.
“We bring kids together from different schools and different backgrounds in a non-competitive environment where it’s all about collaboration and inclusion. The result is truly magical – not just for the kids, the audience can see and feel it throughout the performance,” Poos said.
According to Nicole Tobin, RACE VP/Strategic Communications, HHN tells the story of a young man, who searches for something missing from his life, only to discover that “it” exists within himself.
“The take away for the audience is a message of perseverance, family and holiday spirit,” Tobin said. “This year a record 130 dancers will perform in the Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
Poos says being able to include kids. who normally do not get the opportunity to perform outside of school, advances the group’s mission to bring social awareness and change through dance performances and education.
“It is about giving them the experience of a professional show so they can understand dance on another level,” Poos added.
Poos founded RACE Dance Company in 2008. Today, it is comprised of four companies: the main RACE company, which is currently all women, but open to men; Junior RACE, Teen RACE and the Men’s Hip Hop RACE company.
RACE has produced and participated in more than 75 performances throughout Oklahoma City, with groups such as the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Dance United Benefit. In 2011, RACE received the Great Inspirations Award from Creative Oklahoma.
RACE Dance Company, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, is asking for the public’s support. Additional funding for items such as costumes, staging, production overhead, and choregraphers is needed in order to bring these performances to life. To make a donation, visit the company’s GO FUND ME page.