Nutcracker by the Joffrey: A Holiday Favorite

“The Nutcracker” is a perennial holiday favorite and Chicago enjoys a first class production by the Joffrey Ballet every December.

The company’s 2010 production opened at the Auditorium Theatre Friday, Dec. 10 and it is like a snowflake, sparkling and suffused with light. Mischievous Fritz, danced by Ricardo Santos, and mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer, danced by Matthew Admczyk, dominate the party scene.

The divertissements include Victoria Jaiani as the most sinuous Arabian I’ve ever seen, and Elizabeth Hansen, Caitlin Meighan and Abigail Simon are an adorable trio of Marzipan Shepherdesses.

The highlight of the night, however, is the Grand Pas De Deux by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince, superbly portrayed opening night by Yumelia Garcia and Mauro Villanueva, one of the Joffrey’s very tall male dancers.

Both are fine athletes and Garcia’s ability to balance en pointe drew gasps. But she is also a deeply musical dancer. Everyone is dancing to Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous score, of course, but as she flashes across the stage, she and the music are one and she appears propelled by an interior connection to every note. It is a remarkable kind of dancing and she has mastered it completely.

The production has nearly 120 children, a snow shower that almost creates a white-out, and ballerinas flinging colored petals in the air during the Waltz of the Flowers.  The Chicago Sinfonietta, conducted by Tito Munoz, provides excellent live accompaniment.