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December 14, 2016


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Thank you so much, Haglund for this excellent review of the Joffrey's new Nutcracker. A+ for your knowledge of Chicago history from a native. I saw my first ballet at the Auditorium Theater when the Joffrey performed a mixed bill in 1971. Have loved them ever since then. I may have to wait until next year to see the new Nutcracker, but I thank you for taking me there through your review.

Thanks, Georgiann. I imagine that next year the production will be better. What a fun trip, though. It had been years since I'd seen Chicago at Christmastime. I walked the Magnificent Mile in the light snow at twilight. The lighted Christmas tree in Grant Park is awesome.

Dear Haglund, thanks for the detailed review. I lived in Chicago in the 90's, and have many fond memories of watching the Joffrey at Ravinia. I am very intrigued to see Wheeldon's new choreography. It sounds like the stagecraft alone is worth going to see. I just caught a performance of Balanchine's Nut at PA Ballet this past weekend, and I was struck by how much the first act drags at several points, and how little the male dancers have to do in general. Yet that's the version we're stuck with, for it to be called 'George Balanchine's Nutcracker.' With Wheeldon, from your review, it sounds like there's room for improvement, and hopefully, improve it shall.

Bryan - You have a point about Balanchine's Nutcracker. While I love it, the first time my husband accompanied me to an NYCB performance, he was bored stiff the whole first act and kept asking "When does the actual dancing start?" Aside from the dolls, there really is no ballet.

Pennsylvania and Bryan – What professional Nutcrackers that you have seen live do you prefer over Balanchine's?

Haglund, I've only had the opportunity to see Nutcracker live at City Ballet and PA Ballet, and of course, they both perform Balanchine's version. I've watched several full Nutcrackers on Youtube. I'm quite partial to Helgi Tomasson's SF Ballet production - I find the Doll choreography exquisite. Mariinsky's version is pretty cool. And I think the coolest Tea that I've seen is with the Semperoper Dresden production - their Tea is heavily influenced by Chinese opera and wushu.

Thanks for clarifying, but comparing a live performance to an edited video performance is like comparing apples to avocados. The 1993 New York City Ballet Nutcracker video by Warner Bros is hard to beat and ranks right up there with Baryshnikov's ABT filmed production. Still, one can't fairly compare them to live performances. It's a whole different medium.

Believe me, Haglund, if I were independently wealthy, I would love nothing better than to fly to Paris and Dresden and Boston and SF and Seattle and Miami and Chicago to see and compare different live performances of Nutcracker (not to mention seeing multiple casts at City Ballet). Alas, I am not billionaire, so if I can't get guacamole, I'll take applesauce. ;) Just curious: which live versions have you seen? Clearly you've seen City Ballet multiple times, and you've seen Joffrey's new production.

Oh, lord. In addition to all the ones I've written about on this site over the many years, I've seen versions by Cincinnati Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, Ballet Minnesota, probably every version in Chicago, Ben Stevenson's, Mary Day's, the old Joffrey version, Atlanta Ballet -- so many, it's hard to count. But this is over - way over - a half century of viewing. Oh, yeah, the Hard Nut in Bklyn, too.

Hi Haglund,

I've seen the Balanchine several times live and the 1993 film of it too, as well as the Baryshnikov ABT film about 100 times. Love them both. So yeah, Balanchine's Act 1 is not so dancey. There are a few dull moments in some of Verdi's operas too! Others I've seen live are Boston Ballet and Ratmansky's. Nice but no comparison to Balanchine's.

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