MBS Productions’ “Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker” gets national nomination and TV attention

Every year, MBS Productions puts on its annual holiday show, The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents: A Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker!, which has become part of the seasonal theater tradition in these parts. But the little show that could, has. We learned that the show is nominated for the Goldstar National Nutcracker award. Yes, there is an award for Nutcracker productions, and MBS may be joining some of prestigious if it wins. From MBS Productions.

Goldstar announced on December 26, 2011 the nominees of the Goldstar National Nutcracker award, also known as the “Nutty” award, which honors the best and most loved Nutcracker performances in the United States. This year MBS Productions’ The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents: A Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker! was nominated. Goldstar has selected 50 Nutcrackers throughout the United States worthy of nomination. Some of the other nominees include Joffrey Ballet from Chicago, Moscow Classical Ballet’s show in Los Angeles, San Francisco Ballet, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra’s The Swinging Nutcracker in Washington DC and Pacific Northwestern Ballet from Seattle.

The Goldstar National Nutcracker Award, which made its debut in 2007, is awarded to the The Nutcracker with the best member reviews and event rating. To assure the authenticity of the ratings, members are only able to submit reviews and vote on their favorite Nutcracker after they have purchased tickets and seen the show. In addition to the Nutty, the winner will also be given a $2,500 cash prize to be used toward their education programs.

“Today, it’s amazing how many Nutcracker performances there are in the U.S.— shows feature everything from puppets and horses to jazz bands and gypsies,” said Jim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar. “With the Nutty Award, we want to encourage people to go see all the different shows their city has to offer, while also adding an element of hometown competition to what has been an American holiday tradition for the last 60 years.”

Previous winners include The House Theater of Chicago, The Kirov Ballet, The Boston Ballet and last year’s Debbie Allen Presents The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.

MBS Productions was soon followed up with a call from the ABC news show Nightline for a potential profile about the show from the nomination. The segment is rumored to air the week of Christmas.

Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker runs through Dec. 27 at the Stone Cottage Theater in Addison.

—  Rich Lopez

On Edge

Hubbard Street Dance’s gay leader Glenn Edgerton brings a dancer’s perspective to contemporary troupe

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance Company
MOTION, EMOTION | Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance Company, led by Glenn Edgerton, continues to evolve after 33 years as a leading contemporary dance troupe.

HUBBARD STREET DANCE
Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St.
Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. $25–$125.
ATTPAC.org

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Ask six people to describe contemporary dance and you’ll get six different responses. As an art form, it encompasses so many varied techniques, styles and points of view, categorizing it as one thing is a fool’s errant.

And that’s perfectly fine with Glenn Edgerton. “As long as they make you feel something and have an emotional impact,” he says, “we’ve done our job.”

For 33 years, Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance Company has been one of the nation’s most celebrated troupes, and under Edgerton, a dancer for 11 years who has  served as artistic director since 2009, it has continued to innovate and excite. TITAS presents the company at the Winspear Opera House Friday.

Edgerton’s background as a dancer, with both Nederlands Dans Theater and the Joffrey Ballet, shaped his ethic and his creative vision.
“I’m always fashioning my decisions, trying to put myself in the dancer’s position. How would it have felt? How would it have been for me if certain things are going in one direction?” Edgerton says. “I try to work so that my dancers will be challenged and inspired. I’m thinking in a dancer’s perspective. I was born a dancer and will die a dancer.”

HSDC’s current roster includes 16 dancers, and Edgerton hopes to add a 17th next year. They’re smaller than some classical dance companies, though they have a great track record for retaining artists and exploring new territory with them as they explore new techniques.

“You have a relationship with them in terms of their artistic output. We have dancers in the company who have been here 10, 11 years and then some that have just joined. I adore each and every one of them,” he says.

Becoming a part of the elite team doesn’t necessarily fit any specific molds, but Edgerton can almost immediately sense in an audition when a dancer might be a good fit.

“You know when you see it and you know when you work with them. It’s one thing to see a dancer in a ballet class who has a wonderful technique, but in a contemporary company you have to be ready to move in a much more extreme way than classical ballet. You have to have an inherent ability to try many different types of dance and just have that overall feel that you’re a dancer and not stuck to one technique or another.”

Diversity of style is a hallmark of HSDC, perhaps most perfectly evidenced in one of the numbers being performed Friday night: “With Physikal Linguistiks, you have Victor [Quijada], who came from Los Angeles where he was a hip-hop dancer. He has a real ballet background also, but when he’s choreographing he’s using all of those kinds of techniques and dance moves into his work. It’s also interesting because he’s taking the dancers out in the audience.”

Edgerton is reluctant to admit that shows like So You Think You Can Dance have a positive impact on exposing new people to dance, but he says they do have their place.

“There’s an accessibility with those programs, but it could be confused when [viewers] come to the theater and see concert dance,” he says. “It’s cool and hip and fun on TV, but in the theater it’s more artful. There’s more thought-provoking imagery built into these pieces. All those TV programs are much more commercially minded and geared to more fantastic technique and movements that are more thrilling. Ours are thrilling, too, but the approach is a little different. People need that awareness going in.”

If that means no celebrity judges screaming like morons for camera time, then that’s an entirely good thing. But HSDC has been judged on its merits by the dance world for more than three decades, and clearly it’s a winning combination of art, choreography and technique that keep it relevant and evocative of the universe around it.

“I’m not boasting, I’m just stating that we’re one of the important, international contemporary dance companies in the world,” Edgerton says. “And I’m excited to bring it to Dallas and this spectacular new performing arts center.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens