The Enduring Magic of the Joffrey Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’
Pure, grand-scale magic. That (in a nutshell, and pardon the pun) is the only way to describe the Joffrey Ballet’s glorious production of “The Nutcracker,” which breaks the mold of the traditional version by being set against the grandeur of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair – a true turning point in the city’s history, that notably drew an immigrant population that was crucial to its construction, and devised such wonders as the Ferris Wheel.
One of the most beloved and widely performed classical ballets, set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the Joffrey production of “The Nutcracker,” which had its world premiere in 2016, is the ingenious creation of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (who was in town for several days last week to oversee rehearsals and take a bow at the opening), along with writer Brian Selznick. The two joined forces to put a beautifully reimagined twist on the original story in collaboration with a wildly gifted team of designers. And from the very start it has been brought to vivid life by a company of dancers whose acting skills ideally match their exceptional dance technique. (It is worth noting that while this season has seen the retirement of nine members of the company, many of its stellar dancers are still at work, and the new arrivals – four from the U.S and five from as many different countries – have made a seamless entrance.)