In Orlando every Christmas, there’s a modern production of a classic ballet with a focus on diversity and inclusion. And in the wake of the pandemic, the focus this year is bringing “Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker” back to the stage to continue building an arts legacy for local underserved youth.
“Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker” is a ballet interwoven with elements of African American culture, dance and music.
Seeking more diverse representation in the arts inspired Beverly Page of Orlando Community Arts to create the modern adaptation of the classic nutcracker with a soulful spin.
“As they do the journey, you can see Clare going to different countries and our children are exposed to the cultures of those countries,” Page said.
Page, who is a school resource compliance specialist, says her love of the arts started early when her mother, a hard-working single parent, would manage to take her and her siblings to see performances like “The Nutcracker.” That lasting impression inspires her to make arts available to all children today.
“Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker” first debuted at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in 2012. Over the years, it has featured celebrity performers like dancer Savion Glover and gospel artist Vickie Winans. Page says she created the ballet to showcase and celebrate diversity on stage.
“Imagine that young black kid who doesn’t have the opportunity to come outside their community. Here they can dream, they can see the story and they see characters that look like them,” Page said.
After postponing the 2020 performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Page is pushing forward with the goal to bring the production back this Christmas at the new Steinmetz Hall at the DPAC, complete with a youth orchestra and dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“The more we expose our children to diverse cultures, I think there’s a better understanding, especially in this racial climate we have better understanding and a better appreciation for each other,” Page said.
And through the years, Page’s work with exposing local underserved youth to the arts has laid a foundation to appreciate and study the arts. She says former students have gone on to perform at our local theme parks and in other professional arts groups abroad.
To supplement the costs, Page is selling custom-made “Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker” merchandise online with Walmart and Etsy.
For more information, visit clareandthechocolatenutcracker.com.