The Creole Nutcracker isn’t a kitchen implement, it’s a Creole version of the classic Christmas kid’s ballet, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. And it comes from right here in Acadiana. To put this diversity-inspired ballet in current context, let’s take a step back and look at where we are with inclusion in general.
We tend to think of advocacy for inclusion and equality as something nonprofits and community groups do. But more entrepreneurs are blending business and social justice in their startups. This isn’t corporate social responsibility. It’s social entrepreneurship. And it begins with the idea that every community can and should thrive.
Grassroots social entrepreneurs work at the neighborhood level and start enterprises that try to solve social problems or address community gaps. For example, “Is there a food desert?” Start a farm stand. “A lack of housing?” Start a community housing development organization. “Do people need a place to gather and create?” How about a village.
In 2021, Leigha Porter did just that with Parc Village on Lafayette’s Northside. It’s a community arts center that hosts talks, art exhibitions, dances classes, music lessons, a podcast studio and a conference room. Leigha calls it an “intentional creative space.”
Leigha is a decorated movement artist with a background in ballet, modern and jazz dance. Her work as a dancer and choreographer has appeared on BET and at Disney World. And if you’re waiting to see for how this all ties in to The Creole Nutcracker, hang in there for just one more moment.
Parc Village is also the home of Heritage Parc, an arts mentorship program which Leigha co-founded with Jazmyn Jones. Leigha and Jazmyn have known each other for a long time. And together they are the minds behind the Creole Nutcracker. BAM! The duo began producing the Louisiana Creole spin on the Christmas ballet in 2018 and it has since become a smash hit annual tradition.
In 2021, Jazmyn started Creole Grounds, a mobile coffee service that she runs outside of Parc Village. She’s also a well-traveled dancer and has performed with Debbie Allen and Houston’s Urban Souls Ballet Company. Fun fact: Jazmyn’s first dance teacher was Leigha.
And check out recent lunch time conversation about another Acadiana stage spectacular, The Janky Piano Show.