Chicago Festival Ballet will present Kenneth von Heidecke’s “The Nutcracker” at three Chicago-area theatres this holiday season. For the first time, all performances will feature live accompaniment by the New Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Conductor Kirk Muspratt. Tour dates are as follows:
• At the Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren St., Joliet, Ill.
2 pm Sunday, November 25
Tickets: $19.50 - 35; call (815) 726-6600 or visit rialtosquare.com
• At the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago
2 and 7 pm Saturday, Dec. 1
Tickets: $15 – 57; call (312) 334-7777 or visit harristheaterchicago.org
• At the McAninch Arts Center (MAC), 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, Ill.
7 pm Friday, Dec. 21
2 and 7 pm Saturday, Dec. 22
2 and 7 pm Sunday, Dec. 23
Tickets: $23 - 33; call (630) 942-4000 or visit AtTheMAC.org
Chicago Festival Ballet also tours nationally with the production, earning accolades around the country.
About the ballet
Chicago Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is choreographed by founder and director, Kenneth von Heidecke. Known for an artistic style that underscores the precision and discipline of ballet, von Heidecke aptly blends technical prowess, refined athleticism and crowd-pleasing acrobatics in his celebrated version of the holiday classic.
Coupled with festive staging, the production is brought to life by a diverse cast of company members whose credentials include the Joffrey Ballet, Lyric Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Ballet Internacional de Caracas and Luna Negra Dance Theatre. Students from Von Heidecke's School of Ballet will also join the cast.
Tchaikovsky’s score is skillfully performed by New Philharmonic Orchestra, a fully-professional, 80-member orchestra under the direction of Conductor and Music Director Kirk Muspratt, recently named a Chicagoan of the Year in the arts.
Backed by a legend
Maria Tallchief, legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta (one of only six women in the history of ballet to receive this title), is artistic advisor to Chicago Festival Ballet and endorses von Heidecke’s production. Considered one of the greatest American ballerinas, Tallchief was the original Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine’s 1954 version of “The Nutcracker,” whose choreography is the most emulated around the world today. Tallchief has named von Heidecke her protégé, and considers him to be carrying on the Balanchine legacy.
“Balanchine’s version of the Nutcracker is considered the best, and von Heidecke’s version measures up to that beautifully. That’s how good it is,” said Tallchief. “It is truly magical.”
Von Heidecke began training with Tallchief in 1975 while working as a dancer for the Lyric Opera Ballet, where Tallchief was artistic director until 1981. She continued to coach him as he began his choreography career in the 1980s. In 1990, von Heidecke founded Chicago Festival Ballet as a touring ballet company, with Tallchief’s direction and support.
In 1997, von Heidecke launched his international career by presenting four premiere works for “An Evening of Ballet” at the Badisches Staatstheater in Germany, where he received a 20-minute ovation as well as wide critical acclaim in European publications. Since then, he has received rave reviews for his work with dozens of major opera and ballet companies and has choreographed more than 50 works around the world. Most recently, he choreographed San Francisco Opera’s Sept. 2007 season opener, “Samson and Delilah.” In spring 2008, he will choreograph “Aida” for San Diego Opera.
For more information, call Chicago Festival Ballet at 630-527-1052.