A Very Animated Nutcracker, Starring Cyrus Spencer

December 17, 2015

You know, it’s funny: We’re so used to seeing the brilliant animation of the Dragon House Crew dancers and their ilk set to aggressive dubstep that “animation” and “dubstep” have come to seem like a milk-and-cookies pair. They’re just right together.

But there’s so much subtlety and nuance in animation that it can actually benefit from more complex music—like, say, great classical pieces. Case in point? An awesomely unexpected Nutcracker concert given a few days ago by the California Philharmonic. Masterminded by CalPhil maestro Victor Vener, who came up with the idea back in July, the performance combined Tchaikovsky’s genius score with the—as it turns out—totally compatible genius of three world-class animators, including our fave Cyrus Spencer.

Cyrus, James “BDash” Derrick and Kevin “Konkrete” Davis thoroughly embraced the Nut-y challenge, performing in spiffy military jackets to five pieces from the ballet: the first-act March, the Spanish, Chinese and Russian dances, and (of course) the Sugar Plum Fairy variation. They gave nods to traditional Nutcracker tropes—lots of Soldier Doll references throughout!—while putting their own witty, unusual, often hilarious spin on the oh-so-familiar music. The crowd, unsurprisingly, went nuts.

I mean, here’s the opening to the Sugar Plum variation—even without hearing the music, you can see every note:

Give it a second and I bet you can figure out what Sugar Plum snippet this is illustrating, too:

It’s all-around awesomesauce. Take a look at the full clips:

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