Dec. 9-11: Swingin' Nutcracker à la Ellington Featuring Step Afrika

In 1960, Duke Ellington and composing partner Billy Strayhorn put together their version of  “The Nutcracker Suite,” a jazz-informed take on “The Nutcracker” that both builds on the compositions and fights with it a little. It's a bold refix of a Christmas classic with big band style expanding on the symphonic moves of the original. On 'Overture,' you hear a baggier and looser—though no less sophisticated or ambitious, just less stentorian—take on the song. And in typical Ellingtonian pluralism, other songs take a deeper dive into other styles with 'Volga Vouty (Russian Dance),' 'Chinoiserie (Chinese Dance),' and 'Arabesque Cookie (Arabian Dance).' The performance is accompanied by Step Afrika!, a Washington, D.C.-based dance company, which will add even more energy to the swinging rewrite of Tchaikovsky. Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11, 2 p.m.; Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000,, $12.50-$60. (Brandon Soderberg)

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