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Hammering the Nutcracker 

Wednesday, Dec 8 2010
Choreographer Katy Alniz Rous is accustomed to putting things in the blender. She learned ballet at age 3, samba at 5, flamenco at 8, and Russian dance at 12. So as an adult, it was a natural that she start a company like World Dance Fusion, whose specialty is not having a specialty, as it were. Then along comes religious tradition, parenthood, and a holiday classic. The result is Maccabee: The Jewish Nutcracker — A Hanukkah Story, a retelling of the well-known Christmas tale. She says the idea began to form after speaking with her husband and many Jewish friends who feel excluded around the holidays. Then, after the birth of her son in 2007, she vowed to learn with him Jewish traditions to give him a sense of belonging. The “aha moment” came when she read the tale of The Nutcracker in a children's book and found it translated perfectly into traditional Jewish stories. Maccabee (which is Hebrew for “hammer”) takes place at a family Hanukkah celebration in modern-day San Francisco. Rather than the characters of Clara, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King, it's Miriam, Judas Maccabee, and a Greek army leader. Miriam is a bored teenager uninterested in the gathering, Alniz Rous says, “until a hot guy comes to the party” in the form of Judah. The ensuing midnight battle between Judas and the soldiers retells the story of the Maccabean Revolt and the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In the production, she includes Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, and Russian dance, which follow the original Nutcracker sequence of dancing sweets – Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, and Russian candy.
Thu., Dec. 16, 7 p.m., 2010

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Keith Bowers


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