The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | Champaign Urbana Ballet kicks off Christmas season with ‘The Nutcracker’

Photo Courtesy of Claire Daly
“The Nutcraker” performance at the Kranert Center for Performing Arts on Nov. 28. buzz columnist Felicity Abbott reviews the holiday play which was held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.

The Champaign Urbana Ballet put on a Christmas classic, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker,” at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. 

“The Nutcracker” is a heartwarming Christmas ballet involving many characters, settings and a complex plot.

The Stahlbaum family, including children Clara and Fritz, is hosting a party when the children’s godfather arrives with gifts for all of the children. He gifts Clara dancing dolls and gives Fritz a Nutcracker. 

Clara is fascinated by the Nutcracker and sneaks out late at night to play with him. However, as she falls asleep, the rats and mice led by the Rat Queen start to attack Clara. 

The Nutcracker comes to her rescue and takes her on a journey to his homeland where they visit with Lemonade Sprites, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Dairy Queen and many more magical beings.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Many factors contribute to the magical storytelling such as the dance, lighting, set and acting of the dancers.

    Overall, the dancing in the first act of the 6 p.m. showing on Dec. 3 felt unpolished. Often dancers were not together in the choreography and the audience’s eyes were drawn to the few dancers ever so slightly off the beat. 

    Exceptions to the lack of cohesiveness were the Boy Doll (Leo Lewis), Girl Doll (Emma Rypka), Clara (Daisy Grace Lewis), the Nutcracker (Wes Shunk) and the Ice Fairies. 

    These dancers were exceptional and were able to convey a wide range of emotions through their facial expressions, as well as dance.

    Act II felt much more refined than Act I. The dances were more complex, yet they were well executed. 

    Those that stood out were Sugar Plum Fairy (Grace Williams-Kim), Cavalier (Oscar Lewis), Arabian Princess (Ava Teague), Arabian Prince (Lorenzo Pantano), Rose Queen (Janie Lee) and the Rose Queen’s Escort (Kevin Burnside).

    Aside from the actual dancing, the incredible set and costume led to complete immersion into the story. 

    Projections were used at the beginning of the ballet to give the audience a sense of where the story was taking place. 

    “The Nutcracker” includes scenes from many different fantastical places, like the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets, and the sets did an excellent job of making each setting unique. 

    During Act I, the battle between the rats and the Nutcracker takes place. The transition of the set from the party to the battle was breathtaking. 

    As the walls of the home are lifted, snarling ribbons unroll from the bottoms that, once paired with dark lighting, make the stage into a frightening scene.

    To add to the unsettling atmosphere, the costumes of the rats included rat heads with red glowing eyes. 

    Another impressive set is in Act II when Clara and the Nutcracker visit the Land of Snow. 

    There was a forest of snowy trees in the background, some of which had candelabras painted on to allude to the fact that this was all Clara’s dream. 

    Additionally, there was a fog machine used, and the fog pooled on the ground to give the illusion of fresh snow that the snowflakes and ice fairies traipsed through.

    In addition to the set, the costumes were exquisite. Every dancer’s outfit sparkled and shone in a unique way that added to the magic of the show.

    The most impressive costume was the Dairy Queen’s dress. The Dairy Queen’s skirt was the roof to the barn she sat atop of. Out of the barn came a herd of cows performed by adorable young children.

    Despite the imperfect dancing, the Champaign Urbana Ballet successfully created the Christmas magic that is “The Nutcracker.”


    [email protected]

    More to Discover
    ILLordle: Play now