Chicago’s own ballet company, A&A Ballet under the artistic direction of Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev presented “The Art Deco Nutcracker (© 2017 Alexei Kremnev) with Kremnev’s original choreography this Friday. The show runs through December 2 and features soloists from some of the country’s preeminent ballet companies including American Ballet Theatre soloist Katherine Williams as the Sugar Plum Fairy, American Ballet Theatre company member Jose Sebastian as a Cavalier and BalletMet company member Michael Sayre as Prince. The real stars of this show are the young members of the cast who dance their way through this Christmas tale with talent and promise. This Nutcracker is a show for young and old, with lots of fun, frivolity, and color. It is a particularly good show for children as it is very fast moving, full of color and keeps the audience fully engaged and entertained throughout. The Studebaker is an intimate theater with only 734 seats, but this is a large production nonetheless with 175 people on the stage at one time.
Kremnev’s Art Deco treatment of the ballet sparkles in the beautiful, bejeweled and elegant evening attire in the first act. Ballet can be both serious and silly and this is the case in this production. The stage set includes deep, rich colors in the backdrop with some convincing rain and snow. The first act includes a great performance by Clara, performed by Grace Curry. Her dancing was elegant and exacting throughout the entire evening. The Maid, danced by Elizabeth Chapa, was a new character for this reviewer and she added some fun to the Party Scene. The Columbine and Harlequin were well done by Trinity Santoro and Abigail Dudich. The dance of Devil by Carol Dilts was a new addition and a scary one at that. The Mouse King and all of the mice have great costumes, and they are convincing in conflict with the toy soldiers. A & A Ballet’s Alexei Kremnev is a particularly entertaining Drosselmeyer and Anna Reznik, smooth as silk as Mrs. Stahlbaum, are integral to the success of the Party Scene.
Act II introduces us to the Sugar Plum Fairy, capably performed by Katherine Williams. She is partnered elegantly by Jose Sebastian as the Cavalier. Jasmine Wheeler is charismatic in the Arabian Solo. The Chinese piece includes a wonderful dragon. Kremnev introduces a new group, Bakers, which were fun for the audience. A great addition to the Mother Ginger performance is a wide cast of really young and really talented rhythmic gymnasts of all sorts, performing with hoops and balls.
This production really keeps the audience entertained and it is a wonderful option for family-friendly holiday entertainment in Chicago’s Loop. The show was almost sold out, and with ticket prices from $30-$50, it is well worth the price. The Studebaker theater in the beautiful Fine Arts Building at 410 South Michigan Avenue is a historic and intimate venue and a great place to spend a cozy evening with a group of very talented dancers.
Alexei Kremnev founded A&A BALLET with Anna Reznik in 2016. He also has his own distinguished career in ballet as a dancer and served as Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet Academy and the Joffrey Studio Company. In 2013, Kremnev received the Achievement Award in Culture from the Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI), and the Business Leaders Award from the American Councils for International Education and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Department of State in 2017.
Anna Reznik has been featured in the PBS Holiday Specials “Love is Here to Stay” and “A Family Thanksgiving.” In 2007, 2017 and 2018 Reznik received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. Reznik also received the Achievement Award in Culture from the Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) and is a former founding Artistic Director of the Joffrey Academy and the Joffrey Studio Company
Tickets for Kremnev’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker” are available now at aacenterfordance
Photos:Dan Swinson Imagery