Salt Creek Ballet and New Philharmonic present 'The Nutcracker' Dec. 18-19

  • Audrey Giltner of Hinsdale portrayed young Clara in a previous production of "The Nutcracker" by Salt Creek Ballet. The dance company, along with the New Philharmonic, will present this classic holiday ballet on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19, at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

    Audrey Giltner of Hinsdale portrayed young Clara in a previous production of "The Nutcracker" by Salt Creek Ballet. The dance company, along with the New Philharmonic, will present this classic holiday ballet on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19, at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. Courtesy of Keith Gerling

Updated 12/14/2021 5:54 PM

"Dance is the hidden language of the soul," said American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. It's absolutely right, but dance can't exist without music. The unique combination of dance and music creates magic that stays with us forever. We particularly need this magic now, during Christmastime.

The McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn welcomes back Salt Creek Ballet and its beloved traditional staging of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."


This dance company will join forces with New Philharmonic to present this masterpiece at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. The matinee performances are sold out. The Saturday 1 p.m. performance will be live streamed online, and after that the recorded performance will be available on demand Dec. 19-25.

This performance promises to be one of the greatest highlights of the season.

Under the baton of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, New Philharmonic, the only professional orchestra based in DuPage County, will perform Tchaikovsky's beloved score live. Oftentimes ballet companies travel and perform on recorded music, but this time the ballet dancers will have a great opportunity to dance to a live symphony orchestra. Two great artistic oceans -- the ballet and the orchestra -- will merge in this fantastic union of motion and sound. The MAC, in this case, becomes a beautiful ground for this union.

"The MAC is thrilled to bring you a gorgeous production of The Nutcracker," says the MAC website. "Hailed by critics and audiences alike, Salt Creek Ballet's enchanting production is everything you hope for with stunning costumes and magical effects. With a jaw-dropping Christmas tree that grows nearly 60 feet tall, 125 exquisite costumes, internationally recognized guest soloists and live music by New Philharmonic, this magical production offers all of the grandeur of the timeless tale you've come to love."

Salt Creek Ballet currently operates under Artistic Director Erica De La O and Associate Ballet Director Kristopher Wojtera. For "The Nutcracker" production, the company uses staging and choreography created by Swedish born dancer and choreographer Dace Dindonis and Chicago native dancer and artistic director George Verdak.

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Established in 1985, Salt Creek Ballet presents professional quality dance programming to audiences in the Chicago western suburbs and provides high-level performance opportunities for area dancers. Its studios are located in Westmont.

"The Nutcracker" is a two-act ballet. It was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Op. 71). The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."

Salt Creek Ballet's "The Nutcracker" uses the classic storyline of young Clara and her hero, the Nutcracker. After the family's Christmas Eve party, the girl sees a dream where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Snow Queen, dancing snowflakes and many other enchanting characters.

More than 80 dancers from the Chicago area are featured in this year's production.

Guest artists in principal roles include Cuban born and former member of the Cuban National Ballet Daynelis Munoz (Sugar Plum Fairy) and fellow former Cuban National Ballet dancer and Gold Medal winner of the 2002 International Ballet Competition, Cuba Daniel Sarabia (Cavalier).


Other guest artists include Salt Creek Ballet Associate Ballet Director Kristopher Wojtera (Counselor Von Stahlbaum), former Dayton Contemporary Dance Company member Ricardo J. Garcia (Dr. Drosselmeyer) and former MOMIX dancer Morgan Hulen (the Nutcracker Prince) along with Brian Bennett, Luis Caro, Brittney DiBartolo, Derek Drilion, Jonathon Dole, Jack Grohman, Brandon Penn, Neda Pozingyte and Hannah Stahl.

The Salt Creek Ballet design team includes Simon Pastukh (scenic design), Galina Solovyeva (costume design), Oleg Smirnov (production design and painter) and Charles Hooper (lighting design).

It's worth noting that during the pandemic New Philharmonic, our beloved orchestra, was honored with the Illinois Council of Orchestras' 2020 ICO Award in the category Programming of the Year. Besides that, three years ago Maestro Kirk Muspratt was named 2018 Conductor of the Year (Professional Orchestra) by Illinois Council of Orchestras. Under his direction, more than 60 professional musicians typically perform at least a dozen concerts a year, reaching about 7,500 people from the greater Chicago area annually.

The MAC is a popular attraction in our suburbs. Its mission is to foster enlightened educational and performance opportunities, which encourage artistic expression, establish a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community. We all are so happy to be back at the MAC and attend its live performances.

Yes, we are charmed by brilliant musicians and amazing dancers, but we all shouldn't forget that we, the audience, are also a great part of each and every performance. We are part of the process. We exchange energy with the artists, and they greatly appreciate it. We all are humans, and we all are part of something big and beautiful, which is called life. As world-renowned contemporary ballet choreographer Alonzo King said, "The purpose of art is higher than art. What we are really interested in are masterpieces of humanity." Let's celebrate these wonderful pieces of humanity -- the dancers, the musicians, and the audience. Life must go on!

Tickets are $46, $44 for seniors; and $36 for youth, ages 18 or younger.

For tickets or more information, visit or call (630) 942-4000. The box office is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and one hour prior to performance.

Streaming tickets are also available: $46 per household. A streaming ticket offers one-time access for the household to view either the live performance at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 18; or On Demand between 8 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 19 and 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 25.

COVID-19 protocols

McAninch Arts Center values the safety and health of the audience, staff and artists, and is following the Centers for Disease Control, state and local health department safety guidelines.

Policies include:

• Masks that cover both the nose and mouth are required for everyone over the age of 2.

• Tickets are scanned touchless upon arrival.

• Digital programs are available.

• Hand-sanitizing stations are available at entrances.

If a patron is not feeling well, has a fever, has been exposed to anyone symptomatic for COVID-19, or has recently been tested and waiting results, they are requested to postpone their visit for another day and contact the box office to reschedule or request a refund.

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