Livestream Alert: Wheeldon Rehearsing Joffrey Ballet's New Nutcracker

September 7, 2016

Some dreams really do come true: This Thursday, September 8, you can be a fly on the wall in a rehearsal with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. And you don’t even have to leave the house. From 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Central time (12:30 to 2:30 pm Eastern), Joffrey Ballet will present a live-streamed rehearsal of Wheeldon’s brand-new Nutcracker. All you have to do is visit the company’s YouTube channel during those hours.

Wheeldon in a recent Nutcracker rehearsal. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

While details about which sections of the ballet will be previewed are under wraps, we’re excited to get a first glimpse at Wheeldon’s take on the holiday classic, which will have its world premiere December 10–30. This won’t be your typical Nutcracker, though. Wheeldon has transferred the ritzy tale to a more humble setting: Clara is replaced by Marie, the daughter of a poor immigrant family living in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair. The company is working with a stellar production team, including puppeteer Basil Twist, who’s no stranger to ballet. (He previously collaborated with Wheeldon on The Winter’s Tale and Cinderella.)

Wheeldon with Amanda Assucena during a 2014 Swan Lake rehearsal. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

This lunchtime livestream isn’t the first time the company has given fans a behind-the-scenes look at a full length. In 2014, it presented a rehearsal when Wheeldon was remounting his Swan Lake. In anticipation of today’s event, Joffrey Ballet dancer Amanda Assucena recalled her previous experience. “In the beginning we were all a little nervous and excited,” she says. “If you mess it up, the whole world’s watching. It’s a little scary, but I think eventually I just forgot about it. The cameras try to stay out of our way.” Now Assucena is learning several Nutcracker roles—Marie, her mother and the grand pas de deux—as Wheeldon crafts them.

In addition to the dancing, viewers will also be treated to an interview between artistic director Ashley Wheater and Wheeldon during a rehearsal break. Merry (very early) Christmas!

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