The University of Iowa
Christopher Wheeldon's Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet

The Nutcracker

Presented by
Adult: $75 | $65 | $50
College Student: $67 | $25 | $20
Youth: $37 | $25 | $20

This performance is a Group II event - not eligible for any discounts, but counts toward your total number of events.

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 7:30 pm
Friday, December 2, 2016, 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 3, 2016, 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 3, 2016, 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 4, 2016, 2:00 pm

Hancher Commission

Hancher is proud to present special preview performances of The Joffrey Ballet’s new rendition of The Nutcracker. Featuring choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and an updated story by Brian Selznick, this Nutcracker is set in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair. Tchaikovsky's beloved score will be performed live by Orchestra Iowa, and local children will once again take the stage with the Joffrey dancers as we usher in a new holiday tradition.

Gala Reception on December 3
Black tie optional  |  Tickets: $25

Join us for a special gala reception following the Saturday night performance! Your gala ticket is your invitation to spend the evening with the Joffrey dancers, many of the children (now all grown up!) who danced in previous productions of The Nutcracker on the Hancher stage, and other dance fans. Capacity is limited.

Panel discussion on the creation of The Nutcracker
Monday, November 28, 5:30 pm
Free and open to the public

This panel discussion will include Christopher Wheeldon, one of the most sought-after choreographers working today. Award-winning scenic designer Julian Crouch will also be on the panel, as will Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Joffrey dancer April Daly.

The panel will be moderated by Rebecca J. Ritzel who recently joined the Minneapolis Star Tribune staff as a performing arts critic and reporter. Prior to arrive in Minneapolis, she spent eight years as a freelance dance critic for The Washington Post.

The event is co-sponsored by the Creative Matters lecture series.

Season Sponsor: WEST MUSIC

Event Sponsors:
Sue Strauss
Richard and Mary Jo Stanley
Anonymous Family Foundation
Leonard and Marlene Hadley
Herbert A. and Janice A. Wilson
Douglas and Linda Paul
Gary A. and LaDonna K. Wicklund
OPN Architects, Inc.
Iowa House Hotel

PDF icon Casting for December 1, December 3 at 7:30 pm, and December 4 Performances

PDF icon Casting for December 2, December 3 at 2:00 pm Performances

Residency Events


Some sites may require subscription
The Magic Remains - Joffrey’s Nutcracker Transformation
The Huffington Post - Tuesday, December 13, 2016
A different type of excitement buzzed throughout the Auditorium Theatre lobby Saturday night. In years prior the hum has always been the lively anticipation of a ballet that was a familiar favorite-a tradition for many people in the Chicago area. But Saturday the crowd whirred with a sort of nervous tingle, awaiting the reveal of Christopher Wheeldon’s new Nutcracker, choreographed just for Joffrey. Would it be as engaging? Could the production live up to its predecessor? And for many-will this ballet continue to be worthy of inclusion in holiday tradition?
The Daily Iowan - Monday, December 12, 2016
Hours before Hancher’s curtain rose for its final preview of the Joffrey Ballet’s reimagined Nutcracker, Iowa City felt its first substantial downpour of snow. Snowflakes coated the crowd of attendees. Children dressed in Wellies and their Sunday best walked beside parents in fur coats, kicking the bright white mounds and catching flakes on their tongues. In the auditorium, a steady buzz betrayed the audience’s excitement for their glimpse at Christopher Wheeldon’s rejuvenated ballet, nearly ten years in the making, a mood accentuated by the stage’s projection: The Nutcracker, crimson and subtle, undulating against a black, foggy sky.
The Daily Iowan - Monday, December 12, 2016
I love The Nutcracker. As a dancer, as an audience member, as a pop-culture consumer — I willingly admit to a fervent devotion bordering on mild obsession. I know the score by heart; I’ve performed roles ranging from mouse to snowflake to the Sugar Plum Fairy. For me, The Nutcracker is a centerpiece of December’s jollity and magic. So, naturally, when Hancher announced the Joffrey was in town with an entirely new Nutcracker, I was thrilled. The promise: a revisionist ballet, choreographed by iconic dance artist Christopher Wheeldon and adapted by acclaimed novelist Brian Selznick. A fresh take on a beloved, much-replicated tale. Wow, I thought, dreams do come true. Or, as I discovered, dreams produce thorny questions about the real cost of theater.
Review: Joffrey Ballet’s New ‘Nutcracker’ Leaves Some Tradition Behind
The New York Times - Sunday, December 11, 2016
The Joffrey Ballet long had a traditional “Nutcracker” by its founder-choreographer, Robert Joffrey, which it continued to perform after moving to Chicago from New York in 1995. Now, however, Christopher Wheeldon has made the company a new production that catches a historic moment in Chicago: the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, a world’s fair. And whereas traditional “Nutcrackers” begin among the gentry, he also makes the young heroine a working-class girl, the child and neighbor of immigrant workers.
Taking A Crack At A New 'Nutcracker': This One's Set At The World's Fair
NPR - Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the world of ballet, The Nutcracker is sort of a gateway drug. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon danced his first Nutcracker when he was 11, with London's Royal Ballet. After he moved to the U.S., he danced the Balanchine production with the New York City Ballet. Wheeldon is the choreographer behind a brand new Nutcracker created for the Joffrey Ballet. Expectations are high for this $4 million production, which premieres Saturday. It replaces the version that founder Robert Joffrey choreographed in 1987 — his last work before he died of AIDS.
Creative Matters panel promises dynamic theatrical experience at Joffrey Nutcracker
University of Iowa Research and Economic Development - Friday, December 2, 2016
We have such a responsibility with the Nutcracker,” said Christopher Wheeldon, Tony award winning choreographer at the Creative Matters panel on Nov. 29. “The Nutcracker is going to be many children’s first theatrical experience–the first time going to the theater–the gateway to what we hope to be the audience of the future. Everybody remembers their first Nutcracker.” Wheeldon and a portion of the Joffrey Nutcracker artistic team–Julian Crouch, set, costume, mask designer; Ashley Wheater, Joffrey artistic director; and April Daly, Joffrey dancer–gathered to discuss the creative process of reimagining the classic Nutcracker ballet in a cozy corner of the Stanley Café at Hancher ahead of preview performances, Dec. 1-4.
Inside Christopher Wheeldon’s Working-Class ‘Nutcracker’
The New York Times - Friday, December 2, 2016
The tree wasn’t growing correctly. The projection cues weren’t right. A mouse got stuck as it scurried up a pole. The Nutcracker’s sword broke, then broke again. “Stop, please,” Christopher Wheeldon called out patiently for the umpteenth time as the technical team of his new production of “The Nutcracker,” for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, worked away at a table in the newly rebuilt, gleaming Hancher Auditorium here recently.
The Daily Iowan - Thursday, December 1, 2016
In a wooden shack on the edge of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Marie, a young Polish girl, a daughter of immigrant workers, dreams of the White City’s splendor. Her longing eventually sees her embark on a fantastic journey through a surreal fair, one populated by Chinese dragons, paisley-clad belly dancers, and waltzing snowflakes. Classic characters and reinvigorated dance converge in this vision, realized in Tony-Award winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s reinterpretation of the Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Nearly a decade in development, the holiday tale will take the stage for the first time this weekend at Hancher, with Tchaikovsky’s iconic score performed live by Orchestra Iowa.
42 years of collaboration
Iowa Now - Thursday, December 1, 2016
Hancher Auditorium’s longstanding partnership with the Joffrey Ballet continues to grow, as the Joffrey debuts its new rendition of The Nutcracker this weekend on the Hancher stage. Almost 30 years ago, Hancher first commissioned The Nutcracker from the Joffrey, a Chicago-based dance company and one of the premier companies in the world. This year, to help celebrate its new building, which opened in September, Hancher commissioned a reworking of the beloved holiday story.
Joffrey's epic, reimagined 'Nutcracker' takes over Hancher
Iowa City Press Citizen - Thursday, December 1, 2016
Last Friday, in a dark Hancher Auditorium lit only by stage lights and the screens of a dozen laptops from a team of animators, lighting technicians and directors, the voice of Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon came over a sound system and filled the room. "Dancers, we're back." For more than a week, a production team of more than 80 people, including some of the most respected minds in the arts world, have taken over Hancher Auditorium to rehearse a new $4 million production of "The Nutcracker."
 Joffrey Ballet's 'Nutcracker' offers magical experience for student dancers
The Gazette - Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon knows very well the once-in-a-lifetime magic he’s creating for children dancing alongside the pros in “The Nutcracker.” Now 43 and one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world, the British native portrayed a toy soldier in a Royal Ballet production in London, where he now serves as an artistic associate.
Surprises in store for 'Nutcracker' audiences
The Gazette - Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Hancher audiences are in for some surprises when the curtain rises on preview performances of the Joffrey’s new “Nutcracker” ballet Thursday night through Sunday afternoon. “It’s the Sugar-free ‘Nutcracker,’ ” choreographer Christopher Wheeldon quipped during a panel discussion at Hancher on Monday night.
Interview: Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker rings in the holiday season at Hancher
Little Village - Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The Joffrey Ballet’s new Nutcracker premieres on Dec. 1 at the Hancher and runs through Dec. 4. Tickets are $20–75. There is also a gala reception on Dec. 3. In addition to Selznick, the all-star design team assembled by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon includes puppeteer Basil Twist, who was in town this September, and scenic designer Julian Crouch (Shockhead Peter, Hedwig and the Angry Inch). Selznick answered questions for us via email recently while in London.
'Nutcracker' auditions on tap Wednesday, Sunday
The Gazette - Monday, September 12, 2016
Auditions for the Joffrey’s new version of the holiday classic take place from 1:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday at Hancher Auditorium, 141 E. Park Road, Iowa City. Time slots vary for boys and girls ages 7 to 18. Registration is encouraged by Wednesday; details and forms are available at
Hancher during its construction in April
The Little Hawk (City High School) - Friday, April 22, 2016
This December, the brand-new Hancher stage–facing 1,800 seats–will host The Joffrey Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker, directed by Christopher Wheeldon. Wheeldon is a well known choreographer throughout the theater community. He most recently won a Tony Award for choreographing An American in Paris.
In December of 2016, Iowa City will have the opportunity to see the new Joffrey Ballet before the world premiere
West Side Story (West High School) - Thursday, April 14, 2016
This December, citizens of Iowa City will be able to see a preview of the Joffrey Ballet’s new “The Nutcracker” spectacle before the world premiere in Chicago. This $4 million production is co-commissioned by Hancher, whose new auditorium is set to open in fall of 2016.
Hancher and Joffrey Ballet announce collaboration for new ‘Nutcracker’ set in World’s Fair Chicago
Little Village - Wednesday, April 13, 2016
In 1987, Robert Joffrey’s Chicago-based ballet company held the world premier of their production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium. At a press conference held Tuesday on stage at the nearly completed Hancher Auditorium — nearly eight years after the original facility was destroyed by historic floods — Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson announced that the facility will host the debut of a newly imagined Joffrey Nutcracker for the 2016 holiday season. “We’re creating history today,” Swanson said.
Chuck Swanson, Hancher executive director, speaks at a press conference announcing that Hancher will be a producing sponsor of the Joffrey’s new production of "The Nutcracker"
Iowa Now - Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Hancher will be a producing sponsor of the Joffrey’s new production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by the acclaimed Christopher Wheeldon. Five preview performances of the new Nutcracker will be presented at the new Hancher Auditorium, Dec. 1–4, 2016. The Nutcracker will then be performed in the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago for 27 performances, Dec. 10–30.
Adam Wesley/The Gazette A construction worker listens during a news conference announcing a collaboration on a new “Nutcracker” ballet at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City on Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
The Gazette - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Hancher Auditorium audiences will see the Joffrey’s new Chicago World’s Fair-themed re-imagining of “The Nutcracker” ballet before anyone else in the world. The lavish, $4 million production, helmed by Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, will have five “preview” performances in Iowa City from Dec. 1 to 4 before moving to Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre from Dec. 10 to 30.
Hancher Auditorium announces partnership with Joffrey Ballet
KCRG - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The University announced a new choreographed version of the Nutcracker will be performed at Hancher Auditorium this December. Five performances of the new Nutcracker will take place from Dec. 1 through 4. After, the Nutcracker will be performed in downtown Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University for its "World Premiere."
Hancher and the Joffrey Ballet held a news conference announcing the collaboration on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Steffi Lee, CBS2/FOX28)
KGAN - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
On Tuesday, Hancher announced one of the biggest collaborations for their first season to take the stage. The Joffrey Ballet and Hancher have a long history of working together. This year, Joffrey Ballet and Hancher announced a collaboration for the new production of The Nutcracker. Hancher and the UI were first to commit to this project.
Hancher Auditorium and The Joffrey Ballet announced the creation of a new production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon
Daily Iowan - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The year’s first event on Hancher Auditorium’s new stage lacked showy lights, glitzy costumes, and staggering production value, but it made up for that in significance. The Joffrey Ballet will debut a new production of The Nutcracker this December, choreographed by Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon. Hancher will serve as a producing sponsor and host five preview productions of the ballet December 1-4 before its world premiere in Chicago on December 10.
Hancher and Joffrey Partner on New Nutcracker
Iowa Theatre Blog - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Hancher Auditorium commissioned Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker in 1987, fulfilling Joffrey’s dream of creating a distinctly American Nutcracker. Twenty nine years later, Hancher and the Joffrey Ballet will partner to create an all new Nutcracker, previewing it in the newly built Hancher Auditorium in December, which replaces the building destroyed in the 2008 flood.
Announcement of the artistic team for the world premiere production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker. Photo: Todd Rosenberg
ChicagoNow (Show Me Chicago) - Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Preview performances of Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker will take place at The University of Iowa’s brand new Hancher Auditorium, December 1–4, 2016.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon enjoys the snow confetti at the Auditorium Theatre after announcing the artistic team for the company's new production
Chicago Sun-Times - Monday, April 11, 2016
Wheeldon, who learned the value of previews when working on Broadway, said he is thrilled that “Nutcracker” will have a modest equivalent when it plays at the University of Iowa’s new Hancher Auditorium, Dec. 1–4.
The Joffrey Ballet production of "The Nutcracker" in Dec. 2015 at the Auditorium Theatre. with Mahallia Ward & Dylan Gutierrez. (Cheryl Mann)
Chicago Tribune - Monday, April 11, 2016
The production, the Joffrey said Monday, will first be seen at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where it will play Dec. 1-4 at the Hancher Auditorium, a longtime Joffrey presenter, a sponsor of this new production, and the same venue that commissioned Robert Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker” in 1987, as well as the Joffrey’s “Billboards” in 1993.
Joffrey Ballet's announcement around its new "Nutcracker" production (Todd Rosenberg)
Chicago Tonight WTTW - Monday, April 11, 2016
Preview performances of Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker will take place at The University of Iowa’s brand new Hancher Auditorium, December 1–4, 2016.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Paris Sissel in advance at (319) 467-4849 or at