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Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut 

No rhythm? Look lousy in a tutu? Fit right in at the Dance-Along Nutcracker

Wednesday, Dec 4 2002
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Visions of sugarplums be damned: When you leave the Dance-Along Nutcracker, you'll have images of drag queens and grannies and wee tots dancing in your head. This Nutcracker, originally inspired by sing-along Messiahs, has more in common with Bay to Breakers than with the original work, Marius Petipa's 19th-century ballet.

Since 1985, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, led by artistic director Jadine Louie, has performed The Nutcracker Suite with embellishments, like the millennial version's outer space theme, supplemented by Star Wars music. This year's edition, themed "The Musicals," incorporates Broadway showtunes: Listen for "Fugue for Tin Horns" from Guys and Dolls, the prologue from West Side Story, and, in this Richard Rodgers centenary year, a medley of songs from The Sound of Music.

And the dancing! Carolyn Carvajal, a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Opera Ballet, choreographs segments for professional dancers; during every other number, viewers can waltz in the widened aisles of Yerba Buena's Forum. This improvisatory mix of classical, social, and -- let's face it -- interpretive dancing samples everything from the ballet's Cossack kicks to that ubiquitous Deadhead flailing-arm dance. Somehow, the sheer absurdity makes it work. Some participants have been formally trained, including many kids and (claims band member Heidi Beeler) three mystery women in long skirts who come every year. Everyone else takes part with some combination of chutzpah and high spirits. Costumes are de rigueur, with inspiration provided by the Broadway theme; if that's not enough for you, there's always the tutu rental boutique onsite.

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Heather Wisner

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