Postmodern, minimalist, Arte Povera: All these terms apply to David Parker’s new Nut/Cracked, in which 10 experienced dancers and 11 students get down with Tchaikovsky, both a symphonic version and arrangements by Fred Waring, Duke Ellington, and Glenn Miller. Parker and Jeffrey Kazin open with a fluent vaudeville tap duet; Amber Sloan and Parker exploit the rhythmic possibilities of bubble wrap, and an allergic corps sneezes its way through the “Waltz of the Flowers.” Much of this is very funny, though some variations get lost on DTW’s vast stage.
Three populations will be especially entertained here: dance aficionados suffering from Nutcracker fatigue; longtime fans of Parker’s visual and rhythmic jokes, generously recycled in the 65-minute holiday fantasia; and gay men. This Chelsea-boy vision of the century-old ballet sees major pas de deux performed by Parker and primo ballerino Kazin. The hoary comparison between a pointe shoe and a penis is graphically demonstrated. A tender moment has Parker, a Drosselmeier who sometimes sports a shaving-cream beard, offering a nosegay to 15-year-old Zack Winokur, who flippantly rebuffs him. The spectacle of grown men sucking each other’s thumbs elicits nervous laughter. A tray of hors d’oeuvres rather than a full meal, Nut/Cracked amuses but rarely transports.