Things are moving briskly at the Chicago Ballet Conservatory where owner and producer Tressa Mohler juggles rehearsal schedules, costume fittings, guest performer logistics, and myriad other details leading up to the 2017 performance of the holiday classic, "The Nutcracker."

"Of course, there is never enough time in the day, but we are extremely excited for this year's production, and that makes the work worth it," Mohler shared.

This edition of the timeless ballet promises to be both unique and memorable.

"While the story is the classic narrative, we want to change it up each year, adding a different tone and new elements to the production," Mohler added. "This year's theme is mystery and magic, and with Linda at the helm, I'm confident the audience will get an experience that will cement this as a favorite version for kids and adults alike."

Linda Cunningham, founder of State Street Dance studio, and veteran "Nutcracker" producer, will be in the director's chair. "I'm of the opinion that more is more, so when Tressa said 'mystery and magic' I told her I had a few hundred ideas," Cunningham stated. "It's going to be epic. From sets, to lighting, to effects, and costumes, the goal is to create a spectacle that will be sure to entertain the whole family. We even have a choir singing for the preshow."

Cunningham, along with choreographers Eurika Porto, Ludmila Lupu, Anna Spelman and Tressa Mohler, will be creating the pieces for the performance. They will be working with a cast spanning age 5 to adult.

"It's so rewarding to watch these performers working hard and knowing how excited they will be to see it all come together on show day," Cunningham said.

Along with the Conservatory cast will be a lineup of professionals spanning from the Chicago area to New York to Brazil.

Some of the featured performers include Abigail Simon of the Joffrey Ballet and formerly the American Ballet Theatre; Raoni Xavier, a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Brazil, and a member of LEVELdance, a Chicago-based dance company that fuses dance and design; and Joaquin De Luz, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.

"This is really the icing on the cake. To have professionals of this caliber literally flown in from around the globe to perform with our talented cast is just an exceptional treat for the dancers as well as the audience," touted Mohler.

The performances of "The Nutcracker" will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin. Each performance will have a live preshow. Cunningham offered, "The Hemmens is such a great venue and the crew has been incredible to work with. I'd love to make it our annual Nutcracker home."

Tickets start at $25, with a VIP Golden Circle tickets for $60. For tickets, visit

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