The Nutcracker ballet has been performed for 126 years all over the world. Premiering in 1890, it was originally only performed in Russia taking place 14 times in its first three seasons. It was a sensation from the start and has been a tradition at the holidays ever since. it holds many a fond memory for generations of performers and audiences alike.
Chicago's A&A ballet company brings its own interpretation of this classic to the Studebaker Theatre in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue for three days only. Choreographed by the company's president and director Alexei Kremnev, the ballet is set in 1920's American gorgeous costuming to match. It's a showcase of Chicago's young, often very young, talent who are getting an amazing dance education through the various programs at A&A Ballet's Center for Dance.
The ballet is in two acts. Act One opens on Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor for the party. They children are brought in to admire the tree sparkling with candles and decorations, and presents are handed out. Suddenly, a mysterious man enters the room. It is Drosselmeyer (played by Kremnev), a magician, and Clara's godfather. He is also a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including three lifelike dolls and a small wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a man. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it.
After the party, and after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her prized nutcracker. She then falls asleep on the couch and begins to have strange dreams. Giant mice fill the room and the nutcracker grows to life size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and the mice, led by their king. Once the battle is won, the nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince and he leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which the snowflakes dance around them, beckoning them on to his kingdom as the first act ends.
In Act Two, Clara and the Prince travel to the beautiful Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince's absence. This act is filled with delightful varying dance numbers performed by characters haling from far and wide. The costuming is absolutely stunning in both acts and the showcase of dances from around the world is a wonderful treat. This show is a beautiful presentation of a well-known classic and is not to be missed.
Remaining shows are Saturday, December 1 at 2p.m. & 7p.m. Sunday, December 2 at 1p.m. & 4:30p.m. Tickets for Kremnev's “The Art Deco Nutcracker” range from $30-$50 and are available now at https://www.aacenterfordance.org/box-office