Classic Holiday Traditions: The Joffrey Ballet Nutracker

December 13, 2010
REVIEW by Chicago Now
Natalie Cammarata


The Auditorium Theatre transformed into a magical fantasyland over the weekend with the opening night of The Nutcracker. The Joffrey members were no longer dancers, but giant rats and life-size dolls instead.

Seeing The Nutracker is one of my favorite holiday traditions, but this was my first time seeing it performed by Joffrey. Growing up I went to see it with my mom in Pittsburgh (shout out to Pittsburgh Ballet Theater!), preceded by tea at a fancy hotel.

Yumelia Garcia was a very strong Sugar Plum Fairy. Her arabesque holds en pointe were magnificent, and she and Mauro Villanueva were a great pair. But I couldn't help but want more of another dancer. I wanted more Jaiani.

Victoria Jaiani was the epitome of elegance and grace as the Snow Queen. It was by far my favorite part of the whole show. She was icy but fluid (in the most beautiful ballerina way), and then transformed amazingly into an Arabian goddess for the "Coffee from Arabia" duet. She seduced the audience with curves and sensuality, and amazed them with her un-human flexibility. You could hear the silence of the shocked audience members when she slowly touched her shin to her forehead. The Coffee from Arabia duet was always one of my favorites, but Jaiani made it brilliant. 

Aside from the leading ladies, the entire company put on a strong show. The opening scene was the epitome of a Christmas party, and the set design was just the right amount of elaborate. Uncle Drosselmeyer was creepy enchanting as usual, but his glittery outbursts made me laugh. How magical these things seemed when I was younger!

The only dull moment I had was during the Waltz of the Flowers as they ran on the stage, off the stage, on the stage, off get it. We all get it. Let's move on.

Overall a stunning rendition of a holiday classic. I wouldn't mind watching it on repeat until Christmas day. Bravo!