Christopher Wheeldon's Nutcracker

Snowflakes and icicles are on the march, along with an army of toy soldiers, marauding mice, and delicious dancing treats, as multiple Nutcrackers once again launch Chicago’s holiday season. 

By our count, at least eight major productions grace Chicago-area stages this December. Three magnificent shows take place right here in the city, from Christopher Wheeldon’s much-anticipated extravaganza for The Joffrey Ballet, to the elaborate studio company production of Ruth Page Civic Ballet, to the ambitious school production of Hyde Park School of Dance that sustain aspiring ballerinas, cavalier princes, and adoring audiences across Chicago.



The Nutcracker in Chicago: Take Your Pick of Performances

The Joffrey Ballet Presents Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker
December 10–30 at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University

Christopher Wheeldon's Nutcracker

Wheeldon, winner of the 2015 Tony Award® for Best Choreography for the Broadway hit An American in Paris, reimagines the beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker, for a new generation, replacing the traditional 19th century setting with Chicago's 1893 World's Fair.

Wheeldon’s stunning choreography and the artistic team’s visionary design will celebrate a turn-of-the-century Chicago as seen through a child’s eyes. Set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, the Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Scott Speck, music director of The Joffrey Ballet, will delight audiences with live music at every performance.

Wheeldon’s Nutcracker will come to life with an award-winning team comprised of creatives in the tops of their fields including: Tony Award®–nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter), author and illustrator Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) Obie and Drama Desk Award–winning puppeteer and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Basil Twist (The Addams Family, The Pee-Wee Herman Show), five-time Tony Award®–winning lighting designer Natasha Katz (An American in Paris, Once, Frozen), and Tony Award®–winning projection designer Ben Pearcy (An American in Paris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Big Fish). The Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University (50 E. Congress Parkway)



Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker
December 3–4 at Northeastern Illinois University // BUY TICKETS

This popular re-creation of this holiday classic is back for three performances only, featuring guest artists from Cuba's illustrious National School of Ballet. Originally presented in the Arie Crown Theatre from 1965 until 1997, this production recreates highlights from Ruth Page's beloved original full-length staging.

Exquisite dancing, world-renowned guest artists, stunning costumes and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets, Page’s Nutcracker promises holiday joy for children of all ages! Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium Fine Arts Building (3701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue)



The Nutcracker at the Hyde Park School of Dance
December 9, 10, and 11 at Mandel Hall // BUY TICKETS

The show is a narrated, family-friendly, 90-minute production featuring over 200 dancers ages 4–adult. HPSD was founded as a nonprofit in 1993, with the mission to provide opportunities for students of all ages to study, perform and create dance at the highest levels of discipline and artistry. Diversity is central to the school’s mission, and by “diversity” they don’t just mean cultural and racial; they believe that all bodies can be beautiful, expressive and powerful on stage. Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago (1131 E. 57th Street)



More Dance Events to See This December:

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) 20th Anniversary Event
December 3–4 at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts // BUY TICKETS

deeply rooted

Join them as the company celebrates two decades of artistic excellence and community building. DRDT will kick-off its 20th Anniversary Year with performances that will feature two company premieres. When Men, choreographed by DRDT company member Joshua L. Ishmon, and Femme, choreographed by DRDT artistic team member/education director Nicole Clarke-Springer. The season will also feature works including Jagged Ledges, The March, Bach'd, Heaven and more. Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th Street)



Mordine & Co.’s The Collisions
December 1 at Washington Park // FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Experience compelling contemporary dance up close at Washington Park. The Collisions project is an ongoing investigation into ideas of immediate impact: tensions between generations, cultures and climatic changes. This event features choreography by Shirley Mordine in collaboration with Hema Rajagopalan (Natya Dance Theatre) and Michael Montenegro (Theatre Zarko). Washington Park (5531 S. Martin Luther King Drive)



Beauty and the Beast Adult Story Hour
December 1–11 at the Museum of Contemporary Art // BUY TICKETS

Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz and comedy genius Mat Fraser (partners in life and theater) expose the social undercurrents of the 18th-century fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, in a story hour for adults. This Beauty and the Beast leads the audience on a magical journey into real and fabled romance, using love and humor plus a healthy dose of nudity to throw open the doors of acceptance. The artists reach maximum enchantment by employing song, dance, puppetry and shadow play. Mature audiences only. The Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Avenue)



Chicago Dance Crash's And Now for the Dancing Pants!
December 2–10 at Ruth Page Center for the Arts 
Family Friendly! // BUY TICKETS

Chicago Dance Crash and artistic director Jessica Deahr are proud to regain their sense of humor with the world premiere of And Now for the Dancing Pants!, an original hip hop/contemporary work inspired by the children’s poems of Chicago native, Shel Silverstein.

Fit for all ages, Dancing Pants! is conceived by Deahr with choreography by Belle Jensen, Adam McGaw, Richard Ashworth, Stephanie Paul, and CDC Senior company member Kaitlin Webster. The show also features an original recording of Silverstein’s works narrated by local rapper Al Tamper and a live introduction by local emcee Mr. Mattrick Swayze.

Silverstein was a Grammy Award–winning singer/songwriter, cartoonist and poet of some of the most renowned American children’s books of all time. Crash will happily turn, leap, pop and lock to some of his most memorable works from books including Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic and Falling Up. His writings (only a step or two away from present-day hip hop rhythms) serve as an ideal springboard for CDC’s trademarked “fusion-style” aesthetic of mixing the most athletic aspects of street styles and concert forms into one cohesive blend.

This December production will be the company’s ONLY local premiere until the summer of 2017 so come one, come all! Ruth Page Center for the Arts (1016 N. Dearborn Street)


This feature is brought to you by, the definitive guide to Chicago's dance scene and your source for a full calendar of performances in the city. Read about all the top picks for December at