STAGE PRESENTS

Hang onto your seat— The Jof­frey Bal­let has given The Nutcracker a whole new scene.

Midwest Living - - Out & About - WRIT­ERS Ann Klein and Kit Bernardi

Try serv­ing the turkey with­out stuff­ing some year and you’ll un­der­stand what The Jof­frey Bal­let in Chicago gam­bled when it rolled out a wholly re­vamped pro­duc­tion of The Nutcracker in 2016. Even with ac­claimed chore­og­ra­pher Christopher Wheel­don as its cre­ative mas­ter­mind and the Tchaikovsky score in­tact, the new ver­sion leaped into risky ter­ri­tory—hol­i­day-mem­o­ries-wise, any­way— when it switched up the beloved bal­let’s fa­mil­iar sto­ry­line and char­ac­ters. In the new ver­sion, Marie is an East­ern Euro­pean im­mi­grant girl in pre-world’s Fair Chicago, and the nutcracker-gift­ing Herr Drosselmeyer is a take on ac­claimed Chicago ar­chi­tect Daniel Burn­ham, who over­saw de­vel­op­ment of the 1893 fair’s 150 build­ings. Paris-born Fabrice Calmels plays that role on some nights. On oth­ers, he’s an Ara­bian dancer who, with dancer Chris­tine Ro­cas, elec­tri­fies the house with a su­per-steamy vari­a­tion on the pre­vi­ous pro­duc­tion’s al­ready-pretty-hot Ara­bian dance. The world’s tallest bal­let dancer at 6-foot-6, Fabrice is also a bit of a celeb. His 108,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers heart pho­tos of his re­hearsals and per­for­mances as a lead dancer for The Jof­frey; his snug­gly cat, Bella; and mod­el­ing gigs that hap­pen to (pretty of­ten) fea­ture his cob­ble­stone abs. We chat­ted with Fabrice about what it takes to dance and love the new pro­duc­tion, which runs De­cem­ber 1–30.

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