Netflix’s latest documentary Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker documents the development,
preparation and making of an award-winning new version of The Nutcracker,
called Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The film
introduces Debbie Allen, a renowned dancer, choreographer, and actress and some of
her pupils at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) where she teaches young
dancers and prepare them for a change in the world of dancing.
The documentary offers behind-the-scenes of the preparations, as they rehearse for their award-winning annual holiday version
of The Nutcracker- it’s an 1892 two-act ballet initially choreographed by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa on a score produced by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The documentary is slated to release on 27th
November 2020 on Netflix.
Debbie Allen’s daughter Vivian Nixon follows the steps of
her mother and aspired to be a dance. One day during her training at Kirov
Academy of Ballet, her teacher looked at her and stopped her right away! He
furiously looked at her again and said “you’ll
never be a dancer. You go to Alvin Ailey.”
This was the incident that drove Allen to start her own
dancing academy in 2000. She describes her dancing schools as a “comprehensive in the language of dance and
understanding of what is possible for young people and certainly young people
There was a time when she ran out of funds to support her
students, most of whom are on scholarships, Allen decided to work on Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, which later
became a crowning jewel of DADA’s productions.
In the Netflix’s documentary, viewers now get a sneak peek
into how Allen prepares for the dazzling performances on every holiday season.
It features interviews with Allen, her family, DADA’s outclass dance mentors,
and her extraordinary students, narrating fascinating facts and stories about
Allen’s journey of pursuing a unique dance format that deems to bring change in
the world of dancing.
Allen’s version of the Nutcracker is more inclusive and
advance; it features an Afrocentric Queen of Egypt (usually portrayed by Eartha
Robinson) along with different dance formats including Bollywood, ballet and
hip-hop. It’s more narrative and fascinating than the original version, and
that’s the reason why her production doesn’t fail to lure huge crowds just
around the holiday season every year- except for this year because of the
Allen is compelled to redefine what a stereotypical Egyptian
queen look like. She features an African Egyptian queen and she’s not
apologetic about it! She believes that most people hate to admit the fact that
Egypt is in Africa, or straightway deny it. She feels the need to educate them
and to tell them what’s right! She narrates how Beyoncé and her husband came to
the show and was absolutely blown away by what has been presented to them,
“they didn’t know it was going to be all that it is,” she said.
Are you one of those unfortunate ones who haven’t got an
opportunity to enjoy the production in person? Well, don’t worry! Because
Netflix documentary film is providing an exclusive view of Allen’s production both from the
front-row seat and behind the curtain with Dance
But there are some staggering facts about Debbie Allen’s
life which haven’t been told in the documentary!
Being a Black resident of America, she has been
discriminated against in every step of her life. At the age of twelve, she moved
to her hometown in Texas and auditioned at Houston Ballet Academy. Despite
performing remarkably beyond the qualifications of admission, she denied entrance
to the school because of the systemic racism that subsequently influenced the
judgment of the admission committee. After hearing this news, she was
devastated but didn’t lose hope. She tried her luck once again and was admitted
by a Russian instructor, who coincidently seen her performing in a show.
When the institution’s discriminatory attitude come into the
knowledge of some recruiters from the Houston Ballet Academy, they permitted
Allen to stay in the academy and they were highly impressed with the talent she
had displayed to them.
Unfortunately, her experience at the Houston Ballet Academy
isn’t the only time Allen had been discriminated against because of her race.
At the age of sixteen, she auditioned at the North Carolina School of the Arts
and succeeded. She was given an opportunity to display her talent to the future
students applying to the institution, unfortunately, Allen was rejected because
of her body not being fit an ideal criteria for a ballet dancer.
In some instances, African American dancers were usually
discouraged to pursue a career in ballet because they have been told that their
body structure didn’t suit the ideal stereotypical body for a ballet dancer.
This belief barred many talented and skilled African American dancers from pursuing
a career in ballet. After receiving many rejections, Allen decided to
concentrate on her academics, and later on, she was right on the track to a
successful career as dancer.
As inspirational as it sounds, multi-talented dancer,
choreographer, and actor, Debbie Allen was determinant to make a difference in
a stereotypical world and she did exactly that with her talent, passion and
leadership that won her many awards and recognitions.
Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker is definitely a holiday treat to enjoy
with family, which unravels Allen’s journey of producing an award-winning stage
performance from conducting interviews of future Hot Chocolate Nutcrackers dancers to their endless preparations and
rehearsals from September to December.
I’m already convinced to watch this documentary, how about