It's a holiday tradition: heading downtown to see the beautiful,
department store window displays, then taking in a performance of
The Nutcracker. In a new twist, The Stork's Cradle store in Wheaton
is combining both, producing a shortened version of The
Nutcracker... in the window displays. And the ballerinas will be
live, not mannequins.
This is the fifth year the store owners, Julie Reinhardt and her
mom Bonnie Rae, are hosting performers from The Academy of Dance
Arts. The ballerinas dance Nutcracker vignettes in large windows
that go almost to the ground, giving even little visitors a
close-up view of the action.
The performances originated with Reinhardt's children decked out in
Nutcracker costumes. "As we got more experienced, we decided to
hook up with a dance company and knock everyone's socks off,"
The production begins every evening at 6:30 p.m., when the window
featuring Clara lights up. After Clara dances, her window goes dark
and the action moves on to the swan, Spanish dancer and finally the
Sugar Plum Fairy.
"Once kids figure out the windows will be lit up and start dancing,
they run back and forth and it's hard for parents to drag them
away," Reinhardt says. The show only lasts about 10 minutes, but
runs repeatedly for an hour.
Reinhardt likens the dancing, which takes places in an area about
six feet by six feet, to watching a music box ballerina. The
academy's dancers are pre-professionals who perform vignettes
choreographed by their instructor, Sherry Moray.
The performances will delight visitors of all ages, Reinhardt says.
"We just thought it should be magical to have the windows - like
they do in the big cities."
Performances run from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-17 at 210 W.
Wesley, Wheaton, (630) 752-1584.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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