Sydney Curry performs in Debbie Allen’s ‘Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’


Photo credit: Danna Young

Seventh grader Sydney Curry prepares for a performance of the “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” in a dressing room. This year was the 10th anniversary of Debbie Allen’s adaptation of the original “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” ballet. Curry, who has been dancing since she was two, has danced in the show for four years.

Dancing with the ensemble, seventh grader Sydney Curry wears a white dress with a tiara, fairy wings and light pink pointe shoes on the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center stage. The show seems to be ending, but a new character, the “Fairy King,” appears and an unexpected dance section begins.

This is Curry’s favorite scene to perform in Debbie Allen’s “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.” The Debbie Allen Dance Academy, in association with the Annenberg Foundation, presented the show Dec. 5-8. The show starred actress Raven-Symoné and featured choreography from Tony Award winner Savion Glover.

This year was the 10th anniversary of Debbie Allen’s adaptation of the original “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” ballet. However, it was Curry’s fourth year dancing in it. Curry said she appreciates Allen’s “spin” on the original story. According to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy official website, the show follows three “laugh-out-loud wisecracking rats” that go on an adventure to “Toyland, Candy Cane Lane, The Rainforest, Bollywood, Egypt, the South Pole and on a magical train ride.”

Curry was in five different dance sections in this year’s show. She also performed her “South Pole” number on Fox 11’s morning news show, “Good Day L.A.”

I was in ‘Fairies,’ which is the ballet/pointe scene. I was also in ‘Party’ and I was one of the main character’s friends…Then, I was in ‘Rainforest,’ which was African and contemporary dance,” Curry said. “I also did ‘South Pole’ which is more like a Latin fusion, and my last scene was ‘Egypt,’ which was more modern.” 

Curry started off with weekend rehearsals for the show, which then transitioned into almost daily three-hour rehearsals. Curry began dancing at two years old and joined the Debbie Dance Academy at around five years old. She said being at the academy “roped” her into auditioning and eventually performing in the show.

“When you’re younger, you just take a few classes. Once I started at DADA, I started dancing more often and it just became something that is a constant for me,” Curry said. “Last year, I danced the most; I danced seven days of the week.”

Outside of dancing at Debbie Allen’s studio, Curry has taken acting classes and is involved in the Archer dance program.

“[Dancing] helps me stay focused, disciplined with things outside of dance,” Curry said. “I know I have to get [my work] done to continue dancing to make sure I have the right mindset.”

Curry plans on continuing to do the Debbie Allen production until she goes to college. She said it has become something she “love[s]” to do every year,  and at the last show, the entire cast becomes very emotional because of the friends and “connections” that are made.

“It’s a really valuable experience,” Curry said. “You wish you did [the show] if you didn’t.”