Dancing in the Streets' 'Nutcracker' spreads 'sheer joy & magic'

South Tucson nonprofit dance school Dancing In The Streets Arizona is staging “The Nutcracker” this weekend with a cast of children and community leaders.

The nonprofit ballet school is located in South Tucson and is home to a diverse corps de ballet.

“We have kids with ADHD in the show. We have kids in wheelchairs – those are my ‘ballet-ability’ dancers, I don’t call it disability,” said DITSAZ founder and artistic director Joseph Rodgers. “Their ages go from three-years-old to… I think the oldest one is 25.”

The Cavalier in the Sugar Plum pas de deux will be played by DITSAZ alumnus Alvaro Oquita while the Sugar Plum Fairy will be played by Glenna Torrence. 

Oquota danced with the group for three years before going on to become a professional dancer in California.

“He always comes back for our ‘Nutcracker,'” Rodgers said.

Ward 2 Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham and his wife, Alisa Cunningham, will also be part of the cast as parents at Clara’s family’s holiday party in the first act.

“We’re a very community-based ‘Nutcracker,'” Rodgers said. “We don’t have many stars. We don’t have perfection. We just want to give the sheer joy and share the magical experience of ‘The Nutcracker.'”

Rodgers said it takes the studio nearly $50,000 to produce the show.

“It’s an expensive show to put on and that’s why we fundraise like mad. We have donors,” Rodgers said.

DITS began preparing for their “Nutcracker” on August 2023, which is when they hosted auditions. The cast holds about 87 dancers, Rodgers said.

“Eighty-seven dancers is small for us,” Rodgers said. “We used to have so much more before the pandemic.”

Dancing In The Streets Arizona has been in South Tucson for 16 years, and Rodgers said he got “a lot of laughs” when he began to plan opening the ballet school there.

“They laughed – in South Tucson, they care a lot about protecting their culture,” Rodgers said. “But I wanted to bring ballet culture to South Tucson and use the power of ballet to change the kids’ lives.”

Rodgers said although he has done “The Nutcracker” so many times over the years, his favorite scene is the battle between the Rat Queen and the Nutcracker. 

“The Nutcracker” is a family-friendly show and will be performed at the Temple of Music and Arts, 330 S. Scott Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. 

Rodgers said a third party – tix4cause.com – has been selling tickets, but he did not approve them and is asking people to purchase the tickets directly from the Dancing In The Streets website.