Joffrey Ballet Chicago
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
November 25, 2015
by Ashley McKean
copyright © by Ashley McKean
Joffrey Ballet Chicago’s endearing “Nutcracker” ushered in the holiday season on Thanksgiving Eve at the Kennedy Center, giving D.C. audiences one last chance to see Robert Joffrey’s original production before it takes its final bow (next season Christopher Wheeldon will create a new “Nutcracker” for the company). The production had its premiere in 1987, a few months before Joffrey’s death, and was the last ballet he envisioned for his company. It’s an old world “Nutcracker” with modern touches: elegant, classical choreography inspired by the 1940 “Nutcracker” of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, mixed with bits of flash and flair in the central waltzes for the snowflakes and flowers, typical of Gerald Arpino’s choreography. (Arpino, who choreographed the waltzes, is one of several choreographers who contributed to Joffrey’s production.) Although danced somewhat unevenly on opening night, there was much to relish. Joffrey’s heightened attention to detail infuses the ballet with magic and believability, emphasizing the relationships between the characters that create a cohesive, distinctly human version of the well-known story.
Joffrey Ballet Chicago in "The Nutcracker." Photo © Cheryl Mann