The production, in its ninth year, has been named “Top 10 must-see Nutcrackers in Illinois” by Pointe Magazine. With sold out shows every year, this beloved holiday classic features lavish sets, festive costumes, dazzling special effects, and timeless dancing set to Tchaikovsky’s original score.
This year’s cast features Joffrey Ballet dancers Yumi Kanazawa, who played the role of Clara in the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker last year, and Valentino Moneglia Zamora, who are performing the role of the Grand Pas de Deux couple, along with Evan Boersma as the Snow King and the Arabian Male lead.
“What excites me about performing in the Fox Valley Ballet Nutcracker is to be able to be a part of a beautiful community of dancers of all ages and their families,” said Yumi Kanazawa. “I have performed in the Nutcracker since I was seven years old, and I love to see the young dancers who are going through similar magical experiences that performing and being a part of a production can bring. I hope to inspire younger dancers and to be inspired by them as well.”
Ashlie Andersen, Artistic Director of the Fox Valley Nutcracker, taps into her own family’s background and skills in technical theater with the help of her husband’s production company and other production engineers who help create the magical special effects, moving sets, scenery, and other show-stopping excitement.
“The production is a gift to families who don’t have to trek into the city to experience a professional production of the Nutcracker,” said Andersen. “We strive to surprise our audiences with new twists and innovative visual effects to keep them on the edge of their seats throughout the show.”
The Fox Valley Nutcracker creates a community of dancers from all around the Chicago suburbs, who collaborate to share the classic tale including student performers, young pre-professional dancers, and professional dancers from around the world.
“I really appreciate the feeling of comradery that Fox Valley Ballet has—we are a big family that loves to dance, and we enjoy supporting one another. As I’ve been with Fox Valley ballet since its inception, I’ve had a front-row seat watching the evolution of the ballet,” said Aria Novak, Production Assistant of the Fox Valley Nutcracker. “This year, having performed in numerous roles in the Nutcracker through the years and recently graduating from college, I decided to focus on helping produce the show so I can experience a different perspective.”
The Fox Valley Nutcracker is the only production outside of the Joffrey Ballet that features more than 120 dancers from 25 dance studios as far northwest as Lincolnshire to as far south as Joliet.
“This year we had the most dancers audition, as the cast continues to grow. We have about 40 more dancers than previous years. With such a big turnout, we created a Cast A and Cast B to allow more dancers opportunities to perform in different roles. Joffrey Ballet and other larger productions run similarly,” Andersen said. “We also are pleased to showcase two incredibly talented, graceful Claras who will perform en pointe. We are thrilled that these two dancers will take on additional roles in other scenes of the Nutcracker as well.”
The Fox Valley Ballet does more than entertain; the organization gives back to the community and provides scholarships for dancers around Chicagoland. Show attendees can purchase raffle tickets before and during intermission of the performances. A portion of the proceeds are invested in the Fox Valley Ballet Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are awarded to students who need financial assistance for summer programs or training at their local dance studios. “We have awarded $10,000 in scholarship money to young, aspiring dancers who need financial assistance to further their training,” said Andersen.
In that same spirit, performers in the Nutcracker Ambassador Program will make appearances and promote the show at various community events and holiday festivals. Dancers will visit the pediatric department at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, IL, showering the children there with gifts. Nutcracker dancers also perform and cook meals for the families at the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, they will be participating in the Holiday Lights Parade on Nov. 17 in Aurora, and Clara will read during story time at Barnes & Noble locations in Geneva and Naperville this holiday season.
The Fox Valley Nutcracker relies on the families of the dancers to volunteer as well as monetary donations from the community to keep the production alive. “It really does take the community to bring this spectacular performance to the stage. We are grateful to our partners and welcome the support,” said Andersen. “Because we are a non-profit, we rely on the generosity of donors. We have many opportunities for businesses to sponsor the production.”
Performances are at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre on Saturday, Nov. 25, at 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 1:00 p.m. Regular tickets for adults run from $31-51 and tickets for children 10 and younger are $25-41. For groups of 15 or more, a special group discount is available.