Ballet Chicago's "Nutcracker" Comes to the Harris Theater


There are many flavors of “The Nutcracker” to choose from this holiday season, but if you have yet to taste one of them, Ballet Chicago’s production is both delicious and packs a powerful message that is especially poignant during these conflicting times. The message: we must hope and have faith that good will triumph over evil.

Duell and Blair’s “Nutcracker” delivers this message in countless ways but especially in its diversity of casting. A rainbow of cultures, ages, sizes and shapes tell the story through a spirit of inclusiveness and love.

Ballet Chicago’s “Nutcracker,” a semi-professional production choreographed and staged by Ballet Chicago Artistic Director Daniel Duell, and Associate Director Patricia Blair, makes its Harris Theater debut December 15 and 17.

Make no mistake, there is nothing “semi” about Ballet Chicago’s traditional “Nutcracker,” which this reviewer was lucky enough to see on opening night at Chicago’s Athenaeum Theatre. Dancers include professional guest artists, Ballet Chicago alums, Ballet Chicago’s studio company of pre-professional dancers ranging in age from 14 to 22, and a cast of impeccably trained children from the School of Ballet Chicago.

Ballet Chicago's "The Nutcracker" at the Harris Theater through Dec. 17; Photo by Ron McKinney

And dance they do! The stage is alight with charm, humor and animated dancing, from an Uncle Drosselmeyer who sports dreadlocks as well as an eyepatch to the ethereal Sugar Plum Fairy and the chorus of tiny Polichinelles.

Duell originated the solo role of “Candy Cane” in George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet Nutcracker, (“Russian” in Marius Petipa’s 1892 original for the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet and “Babka” in Ballet Chicago’s iteration).

Duell admits to being influenced by Mr. B’s Nutcracker, but also remains faithful to Petipa’s original. “We wanted the dancing to carry the story through real, balletic dance,” he said of the production. The Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux is Balanchine’s original choreography, but everything else about this production is Duell and Blair’s creation.

Duell, a musician himself, engineered judicious splicing of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, bringing this production in at a family-friendly 2 hours, which includes one intermission.


To purchase tickets online for Ballet Chicago's “Nutcracker,” click the event link here.