The Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker Pirouettes To Virtual Viewings

Elizabeth Harper | December 9, 2020 |


Perennial favorite The Nutcracker returns this holiday season—but in true 2020 style, this year sees The Joffrey Ballet production virtually and at a social distance.

11The_Joffrey_BalletPhoto_by_Cheryl_Mann.jpgThe Snowflakes with set design by Julian Crouch

The annual pilgrimage to take in The Nutcracker is as synonymous with the season as hot cocoa by the fire, tinsel-trimmed trees and mistletoe in thresholds. As with much of 2020, this year, The Joffrey Ballet has had to nix its Lyric Opera House debut of the Christmastime classic and dance the now-all-too-familiar pas de bourrée pivot as it shifts—and expands—its programing. Enter: plentiful virtual viewing options; streaming of PBS’ Making a New American Nutcracker (through Dec. 31), which documents The Joffrey’s 2016 reimagination of the ballet; kid-friendly Virtual Enchanted Evening Nutcracker-themed classes (Dec. 11, ages 7 to 9); and The Nutcracker presentation of Art on theMART (through Dec. 30, @‌artonthemart), where signature scenes are projected on the landmark Chicago building. “We’re giving new meaning to the expression ‘larger than life,’” says Ashley Wheater MBE, Mary B. Galvin artistic director, of this year’s Art on theMART. “The process of creating such a beautiful rendition of The Joffrey’s version of The Nutcracker has been wonderfully gratifying and emotional. During these challenging times, we are so pleased to present a little holiday magic for the people and city of Chicago.”

See also: 20 Virtual And Socially Distanced Events For A Very Merry Chicago Christmas

TheJoffreyBalletsTheNutcracker2PhotocourtesyofArtontheMARTOriginalproductionphotographybyCherylMann.jpgThe Nutcracker displayed across a staggering 25 stories for Art on theMART.


The Nutcracker may not be viewable in person this year, but that doesn’t mean loads of hard work and preparation didn’t go into the production. Here’s an inside look—by the numbers.

90 rehearsal hours to perfect the choreography and performance

1,000 hours to complete the costumes

2 ½ acres comprising the massive facade of theMART, which serves as The Nutcracker’s canvas

29 stagehands required for each show’s operations

80 dancers in each production, including company members, Joffrey Academy of Dance students and the children’s cast

$7.6 million raised through The Joffrey’s Crisis Stabilization Fund, which was created in response to the pandemic. The ultimate goal is to raise $12 million.

500 pairs of pointe shoes used in an entire run of The Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet’s Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco perform The Queen of the Fair and The Great Impresario.


Cheryl Mann; courtesy of Art on theMART; Cheryl Mann