Youth share stage with stars in Urban Nutcracker

Ella Moye-Gibbons, Empress Nordeus, Megan Nguyen, Zayda Adams, Kaitlyn Nguyen are among the seven young dancers from Dorchester who are performing in the Urban Nutcracker this season. Not pictured are Kyre Ambrose and Hope Williams.

“Since I was little I liked to dance. It shows me who I am,” says Zayda Adams one of seven Dorchester youth who successfully auditioned to appear in this year’s Urban Nutcracker.

Featuring more than 30 professional dancers and 75 youth, the Urban Nutcracker is living up to its theme of “celebrating dance meets diversity,” particularly for those Dorchester youth relishing the experience of live performance side by side with stars.

A showcase for ballet, hip-hop, tap and flamenco, the Urban Nutcracker is showing through December 22 at John Hancock Hall. Discounted tickets are available at mayorsholiday.com/home4 or can be purchased at the door.

This year’s performance features Roxbury native Russell Ferguson, 2009 winner of “So You Think You Can Dance” who himself got his start in the Urban Nutcracker in 2004.

Urban Nutcracker is directed by Anthony Williams, born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. At age 16, after experiencing trouble as a street gang member, Williams found dance to open up a treasure of self-expression. He was a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet and soloist with the Joffrey Ballet, among other prestigious companies before founding Ballet Rox, a professional company, Tony Williams Dance Center, his dance school, and the Urban Nutcracker.

Among all his roles Williams perhaps most values the opportunity to mentor performers of all ages, “As a little boy, growing up in this wonderfully diverse Dorchester-Roxbury community, I didn’t have the wonderful opportunities that my beautiful Dorchester kids have by dancing in the Urban Nutcracker!”

Featuring dance and choreography from Boston artists with wide ranging backgrounds including Kseniya Melyukhina (Russia), Gianni Di Marco (Venezuela) and Sabrina Avilés (Dominican Republic). “There is definitely diversity” says Ella Moye-Gibbons, age 8, another young performer. “It is fun to have different cultures.”

The chance to learn from professional artists such as tap sensation Khalid Hill and Tony award winner Yo-el Cassell was cited as an important experience by all the youth interviewed.

“It inspires me” and “you think, I could do those moves someday” say Adams and Moye-Gibbons. With radiant costumes and creative props such as hula hoops and bouncing balls, the show entertains for all ages. The joy of performance was perhaps best summed up by Empress Nordeus: “I like best when people get to see us; their applause gets me happy”. Remaining performance dates are December 13-15 and December 20-22.

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