‘Christmas Fantastique’: ‘The Nutcracker’ like you have never seen it before

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“Christmas Fantastique” will be presented at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22 at Lewis Auditorium in downtown St. Augustine during the Nights of Lights festival.

The original production by Zoika’s Dance reimagines the classic holiday story of “The Nutcracker” and features contemporary dance styles including hip hop, tap, jazz, acro and modern dance, as well as classical ballet. A choir of young vocalists will perform before each show with signing provided by deaf interpreter Amanda Villalobos.

Audiences are invited to join in young Clara’s Christmas Eve dream as her toys come to life and she travels with a young prince to the Land of Sweets. They will see the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing ballet en pointe with her Cavalier. The show will feature Tchaikovsky’s famous “Nutcracker” holiday musical score.

Director and choreographer Zoika Garcia is a former professional ballet dancer and owner of Zoika’s Dance school in St. Augustine.

“I feel very strongly that dancers of contemporary genres deserve a ‘Nutcracker’ of their own,” Garcia said. “Our production is inclusive of many exhilarating contemporary dance forms.”

Garcia has called upon the talents of professional dancers to join the cast of young dancers on stage. Professional dancers Jenne Vermes (tap, contemporary), Sean Mansfield (tap, hip hop), Amaani Grant (hip hop, tap, contemporary) and Katie DeAcutis (hip hop, contemporary) are featured in the production.

Young St. Augustine dancers Sophia Budd and Emmett Kelly will dance the roles of Clara and the Prince. Claudia Mueckay and Jake Karger will dance the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

Garcia and the cast of 65 performers are also looking forward to sharing the magic of “Christmas Fantastique” with local foster children, children from the Betty Griffin House and students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Thanks to the support of local sponsors, Zoika’s Dance is providing complimentary tickets for these children with the help of partners including nonprofit Fostering Connections.

“Sharing dance with the community gives us so much joy,” Garcia explained. “And sharing this holiday experience with children who might not otherwise be able to attend makes it so much sweeter.”

Many sponsorship and marketing opportunities are available to support the production and its community outreach. For more information on becoming a sponsor, go to zoikasdance.com/sponsors.

Performances will be held at Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine. Tickets are $20 and $30, and may be purchased online at zoikasdance.com.

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