West suburban native Kenneth von Heidecke began dancing back in the 1960s when he accompanied his sister to lessons and the teachers found out that he had the dance bug more than she did. After a career as a soloist that saw him dancing for George Balanchine and Maria Tallchief, a blocking error and collision to his knees from both sides sidelined him in 1983, but von Heidecke went on to subsequently become one of Europe’s most innovative and sought after choreographers. Some years ago, the College of DuPage asked him if he would stage a “Nutcracker” for its new arts center, and von Heidecke has been home every holiday season since to train the best of his students from the Naperville-based von Heidecke Chicago Festival Ballet, often bringing in dancers from abroad to fill in some roles and serve as an inspiration to the students. The result is a Nutcracker that is heavy on kids, yes, but not kids who just skip around like the old Ruth Page production, but who are actually already highly trained artists, which is what puts this “Nutcracker” high on the inspiration factor: take the kids to this production, and they may well want to put on the tights themselves, for better or worse. (Dennis Polkow)
Sat/2pm & 7pm. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, (312)334-7777. $25-$35.