The Joffrey Ballet Brings a New Take on The Nutcracker

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Christopher Wheeldon 

A highly anticipated holiday tradition is getting a Chicago-style makeover this upcoming December. In 2015, the Joffrey Ballet announced the close of a 28-year run of Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker; in 2016, the company planned to hand the reins to Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Wheeldon’s vision for the classic moves the story from Joffrey’s 19th century vintage American living room to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. This reimagining examines a turn-of-the-century Chicago seen through a child’s eyes. “It was always my wish to create a Nutcracker that belongs specifically to The Joffrey Ballet - a version that accurately represents its position as a premiere American ballet company dedicated to presenting unique repertoire and cutting-edge works,” said Christopher Wheeldon. “This Nutcracker will push the boundaries of classical dance and transport audiences to a magical moment when Chicago transformed into a beacon of wonder. I’m honored to partner with the Joffrey once again and bring this vision to life with today’s best creative minds.” During a Monday press conference at the Auditorium Theatre, the Joffrey announced the rest of The Nutcracker's artistic team. A whole host of award winners and nominees join Wheeldon--who won a Best Choreography Tony Award for his work on An American in Paris--in bringing his vision to life. Those involved in the production include Tony Award nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch, Caldecott Medal Award-winning author and illustrator Brian Selznick, Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, and Tony Award-winning projection designer Ben Pearcy. Katz and Pearcy both worked on An American in Paris, as well. "The Nutcracker has remained very close to my heart ever since I danced in the world premiere of Robert Joffrey's production in 1987," said Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. "I have worked with Christopher for many years and discussed this Nutcracker for nearly a decade. Great art takes time. Christopher has assembled a magnificent artistic team and together they are inventing a magical world amongst the grand concourses of the White City." The Joffrey Ballet will perform Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker 27 times this upcoming holiday season, running December 10 through December 30 at the Auditorium Theatre.
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Miriam Finder Annenberg