World Premiere of “Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker” Debuts in NYC This Fall

From November 15 to 27, the world premiere of “Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker” will come to New York City Center after a stay in Pittsburgh from October 19-30.

The new ballet reimagines the beloved classic, with a libretto by Jessica Swan and music of legends Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Embracing the jazz genre, the ballet comes at a perfect time to ring in this fall’s holiday season at New York City Center.

Composer Billy Strayhorn at the piano
Composer Billy Strayhorn playing piano (Photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Sugar Hill” is a tribute to collaboration, diversity, and individuality. The music arrangement celebrates the jazz heartbeat of Sugar Hill in Harlem. Directed by Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse, with choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi, the show will present amazing dancers, orchestrations, and arrangements.

Consummate master of self-expression Duke Ellington and classically-trained, jazz genius Billy Strayhorn, took something wholly European, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and transformed it into a story that symbolizes the American ideal — the freedom of individualism — by marrying it to jazz. There is no finer visual representation of this than through dance.

 -A. Alyce Claerbaut and Mercedes Ellington

A. Alyce Claerbaut, niece of Billy Strayhorn, is the “Sugar Hill” Executive Producer, and Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, and producer, director, and choreographer in her own right, expressed the genius of the ballet’s intent.

Duke Ellington plays the piano
American musician Duke Ellington (1899-1974). Undated photograph. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

The “Sugar Hill” creative team also includes the talent of Julian Crouch (Scenic Designer), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Finn (Lighting Design), Austin Switser and Switser + Knight (Projection Design) and John Shivers (Sound Design). Stay tuned for when the New York City Center tickets to this genre-bending ballet go on sale.

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