The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker in a 22-performance engagement at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, December 7 – 27, 2012.
The curtains rose on The Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker on December 10, 1987 at the Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa, with the production then embarking on a national tour, and the American Nutcracker was born. When Robert Joffrey choreographed The Nutcracker, he replaced the traditional European setting with a 19th century American home, populating it with toys from his own childhood underneath the Christmas Tree of the Stahlbaum Family. This original production combines classical grace with explosive action, maintaining the purity of Robert Joffrey's original choreography while sparkling with elegant costumes, an extravagant set by Oliver Smith and a giant Mother Ginger puppet by Kermit Love.
Following a lively party on Christmas Eve, familiar characters Clara and the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer embark on a magical adventure, encountering a battle between toy soldiers and legions of mice (where Clara unexpectedly saves the day), before being whisked away with the Nutcracker Prince to an enchanted forest by the elegant Queen and King of Snow, then being delighted by an exotic array of dancing confections from the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy. Joffrey Ballet Co-Founder Gerald Arpino also contributed to Robert Joffrey's version, having choreographed the Land of the Snow scene, which closes Act I, and the Waltz of the Flowers in Act II.
"I danced with The Joffrey Ballet when this production was created in 1987," said Ashley C. Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "I remember our days in Iowa City, when we learned, rehearsed and, ultimately, premiered this ballet. Robert Joffrey's Nutcracker, and in particular the first act party scene, is unique in its attention to detail. His Nutcracker is a celebration of American Christmas traditions, as meaningful today as they were during their first performance in 1987. Whether you are seeing The Nutcracker as a child for the first time, or grew up with the story, there is always something familiar and something brand new."
"Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Robert Joffrey's Nutcracker, which has become the number one Nutcracker in America, is a huge milestone for the company," said Christopher Clinton Conway, Joffrey Ballet Executive Director. "Every year for the past quarter century, thousands of families have made a place for the Joffrey's Nutcracker in their holiday traditions, creating treasured memories that last a lifetime. In this day and age of uncertainty on so many levels, we need the warmth, beauty and magic that this ballet brings into our lives."
The Chicago Philharmonic, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck, provides live accompaniment of the classic Tchaikovsky score for every performance. The full Joffrey company is joined onstage by 118 young dancers from the Chicagoland area – dancing as Party Girls and Boys, Polichinelles (Mother Ginger's children), Battle Mice and Mounted Mice, Soldiers, Snow Tree Angels and Dolls – and young vocalists from five different local children's choirs perform the choral parts from the magical Snow Scene, including singers from the Barrington Children's Choir, the Jones College Prep High School Treble Choir, the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Choir of Chicago Children's Choir, the Pro Musica Youth Chorus and the Providence-St. Mel School Choir. The choirs also delight audiences with popular seasonal selections in the Auditorium Theatre's main lobby one half-hour prior to curtain and during intermissions at every performance. Last year, Joffrey's Nutcracker was recognized with the Goldstar National Nutcracker Award (affectionately nicknamed "The Nutty") as the "Best Loved Nutcracker" in the United States.