The Joffrey Ballet Chicago’s Nutcracker comes to the Auditorium Theater on December 1 and performs through December 30.
I have always had a passion for ballet and took ballet for many years, I must admit every time I see a ballet performed I am on pointe up on the stage, well at least in my mind’s eye! Perhaps it is my Russian heritage and perhaps I have a ballet gene or perhaps it is because my Father had the privilege of seeing both Pavlova and Nijinsky. I can remember the many, many times sitting on my Father’s lap (and eventually having my own seat) with huge eyes loving every pirouette, pas de deux, the music, the magnificent sets, and the costumes, all of it! It has been my pleasure to see many of the world-renowned dancers from the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, Sadler’s Wells, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, and, most importantly our very own Joffrey Ballet! All these companies performed in Chicago and I saw both New York companies in New York as well and the Joffrey when it was in NYC.
My first encounter with the Joffrey was many years ago when they made their first performances in Chicago. my friend, Barbara Varro, who was with the Sun-Times at the time, was assigned to write a story about Mr. Joffrey and Mr. Arpino and we went back stage after their performances of The Green Table and Trinity (still my favorite of all their repertoire!) and either that year or another season we saw Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs premiere which was costumed by the late great Oscar de la Renta! Brilliant in all respects. Being in the dressing rooms and on stage of The Auditorium was extraordinary and guess what I did it again last Sunday….let me explain.
I wanted to see Giselle and the only available date I had was the last performance the matinee on Sunday. Fortunately my dear friends, Brian Smith and Geyer Morford, wanted to attend, yet again, and went with me, after a lovely brunch at Cochon Volant. All I can tell you is that I was as wide eyed as I was when sitting with my Father…it was magnificent and the performances were a world premiere of Lola de Ávila’s adaptation for the Joffrey…you can be sure it won’t be the last time it is performed by this amazing company. The production was flawless and a perfect tribute to Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary with The Joffrey Ballet Chicago! www.joffrey.org
Christine Rocas and Dylan Gutierrez
Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili
The Joffrey Ballet Chicago Corps de Ballet
After I caught my breath we went back stage, nothing more magical then looking out at the house, which is breathtakingly beautiful from every possible view, Sullivan most certainly knew how to do buildings exquisitely…and bumped into Ashley anther treat for my day. Saw a couple of the ballerinas greeting their little admirers…ah memories! I am so fortunate to have the Executive Director, Greg Cameron, Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Smith and former Joffrey dancer, Michael Anderson as my special friends and to call Ashley a new friend as well….lucky Nena!
To continue it’s 2017-2018 season The Joffrey presents it’s sensational adaptation of The Nutcracker which premiered last year in a production choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The Ballet journeys inside Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, a fascinating concept and truly a spectacular, it not surprisingly opened to rave reviews, an annual must-see for all ages. I must admit I was a bit skeptical, the original Joffrey production was one of the best I have ever seen and I have seen many really great ones. I needed not to have worried the new production exceeds all expectations. Get you tickets immediately!!!!
Scenes from The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is one of my all time favorites, isn’t it everyone’s….for several years Saks Fifth Avenue did a series of Platinum events for our top clients and they could choose from several offerings of events you couldn’t buy and they were limited to 10 couples, one of which was the Joffrey’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Rosemont Theater before they officially became The Joffrey Ballet Chicago. After the performance we had a sit-down dinner in a private room at the Theater and seated one or two of the performers and Mr. Arpino at each the tables (Michael Anderson recalls being one of the dancers in attendance). I had authentic German Nutcrackers as the centerpieces and each guest received one as their parting gift. I must admit the evening was a huge success.
Coming in Spring 2018 Modern Masters, February 7-18 and Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 25-May 6 and a very exciting Fall program to be announced in the near future.
How fortunate we are to have The Joffrey Ballet Chicago as part of our amazing cultural scene, this year has been a year of announcements for The Joffrey, their announcement of their move to The Lyric Opera House in 2020 (they came to Chicago in 1995). Ashley’s 10th Anniversary, the upcoming The Nutcracker Behind the Scenes documentary on Thursday, November 16 at 8:00 on WTTW www.wttw.com/nutcracker
Chicago loves its culture and particularly its ballet, lucky us that The Joffrey decided to make Chicago home…can’t even begin to wait to see what is in store for this world class dance company!
All photos for nenasnotes courtesy of The Joffrey Ballet Chicago.
Photos by Cheryl Mann