The Nutcracker and The South Loop
we see it and we're in it
12/25/2011 2:06 AM
In the South Loop, everyone sees the Nutcracker. It's a holiday neighborhood tradition. Some of us are even in it.
Christmas Eve afternoon my friend and South Looper Kathy Smith arranged for two fantastic seats for me and my daughter Molly for the Joffrey production at the Auditorium Theater at Congress and Michigan. Her son, Austin MacIvor Smith, a ballet student and a student at South Loop Elementary School, is in it--he dances the part of one of the children visiting the Stahlbaums on Nutcracker Night, so to speak.
Three other South Loop students are also in the production--Elena Bianchi, Martina Bianchi and Samone Nikole Williams--dancing as three of the soldiers. Another young South Loop resident would have been in it this year, but for some corrective back surgery she underwent not long ago. Her mother was our former ticket connection--and many neighbors would sit together in a big group.
It was everything I could do to keep in my seat and not get up and dance and hum the beautiful Suite this year. It was a perfect performance in every way. The colors were deep, the dancing was perfection, and the music was, well.... sublime. The long scene where the snow falls upon the dancers, harder and harder, looks just like real snow. It's really white confetti, Kathy told me--but it sure looks like the real thing--and you can almost sense the dancers in their tutus and skinny tights getting chilled to the bone--but for the warmth of the dance. During intermission, I had the pleasure of spending time with Austin and asked him a question. How come boys don't take toe dancing lessons? How come only girls learn to dance en pointe?
The Joffrey wasn't the only production with a South Loop connections this year. Sarah Jester, who lives with her parents in the Prairie District, and a block from her grandparents who were at one time my neighbors at Roosevelt and State, is a ballet student at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and danced several performances with the Civic Ballet of Chicago Nutcracker recently.
Elizabeth Shy, a Pilates instructor at the South Loop FFC, danced as a Chinese doll in the just-ended Ballet Chicago Nutcracker production.
The South Loop at Christmas: it gives you a taste for a Sugar Plum and a yearning for a long glimpse of a Snow Queen.