Review: Rising Stars (Joffrey Ballet)

     
     

Joffrey Ballet sets sights forward with dream-centered showcase

     
     

'Woven Dreams' from Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars"

  
Joffrey Ballet presents
   
Rising Stars
   
By Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, and Edwaard Liang
at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map)
through May 15  | 
tickets: $25-$145  |  more info 

Reviewed by Dan Jakes

By May, whatever sense of pride we Chicagoans feel for having endured another grueling, road-destroying, finger-blistering, mind-numbing winter begins to fade and Bells: Temur Suluashvili & Victoria Jaiani in Joffrey Ballet's 'Rising Stars'is replaced by a mild delirium. The high season for introspective, cerebral work comes to a close–we can’t take it anymore. After the thaw, it’s time to play, not to think.

Just as nights along the lakefront are starting to become more balmy, the Joffrey Ballet presents this appropriately-timed spring offering, showcasing visceral and percussive variations on dreamscapes, sexual awakening and unbridled joy.

Works by choreographers Edwaard Liang, Julia Adam and Yuri Possokhov are prefaced with a short video introduction featuring interviews with the artists and rehearsal footage (see videos below). The stories and themes explored in their dances are pleasantly accessible and do not require blatant explanation–didacticism doesn’t appear to be the goal, though. It looks rather that artistic director Ashley C. Wheater and the Joffrey are making an attempt to enrich its audience and welcome them in to the process of a notoriously mystified art form. The effect is disarming. I found myself openly considering and accepting the individual pieces where I might otherwise have been drawn to decipher them.

     
Night: Anastacia Holden, Derrick Agnoletti in Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars" Bells: Temur Suluashvili & Victoria Jaiani in Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars"
Night: Amber Neumann, Joanna Wozniak, Christine Rocas in Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars" Night: Amber Neumann, Anastacia Holden (center), Derrick Agnoletti in Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars"

Marc Chagall’s vibrant, fantastical paintings are the inspiration for Adam’s “Night,” a so-called dance of flight. Matthew Pierce’s perceivably simple, sustained music composition adds to the piece’s sense of exploration and wonder, luring and enticing a young woman to drift, float and soar through her subconscious. Like its theme, the dance is tangential and flows delightfully from one impression-like image to the next. Dreams, literal and not, are a thread through each of the works. That idea is furthered and deepened in Liang’s grand “Woven Dreams,” set to Ravel and Michael Galasso, a large-scale work that considers and plays with the notions of malleable realities and shared-dreaming. Where Liang and Adam provide fantasy, Possokhov basks in drama. In “Bells,“ Rachmaninov underscores a series of unabashed, intensely-sexual duets (with enough conviction, apparently a thigh-slap can suddenly seem R-rated and ballet can look S&M) where relationships are born and die in the same firestorm.

  
  
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

'Woven Dreams' from Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars"

Additional videos HERE

  
  

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Joffrey Ballet announces its 2010-2011 Season!

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THE JOFFREY BALLET ANNOUNCES ITS 2010-2011 SEASON

 

Season to feature two mixed repertory programs:

  • showcasing World Premieres by Liang and Possokhov
  • toasting famed choreographers Balanchine and Wheeldon
  • Plus, the revival of The Taming of the Shrew and the return of America’s #1 Nutcracker

Continuing in The Joffrey Ballet’s mission to provide the highest level of performance quality, the season will feature live orchestral accompaniment by the Chicago Sinfonietta , the official orchestra of The Joffrey Ballet. All performances will take place in The Joffrey’s home venue, the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, in downtown Chicago at 50 East Congress Parkway.

“The Joffrey’s next season promises to be an intriguing array of dance,” noted Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “We’ll salute the contributions of 20th century, New York masters in the fall, and introduce works by the next generation in the spring, with two full-length story ballets in between. Throughout the season we balance established and rising talent, mixed rep and evening-length ballets, contemporary and traditional. There’s something for both the dance aficionado and the dance novice, and everyone in between.”

2007-nutcracker-med-5098 Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker” – 2007


October 13-24, 2010

  1. Wheeldon’s After the Rain

  2. Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto

The Joffrey Ballet’s 2010-2011 Season opens with a mixed repertory program of Company Premieres, highlighting 20th century New York icons. The program will include Christopher Wheeldon’s emotionally resonant After the Rain (2005). Set to the minimalist, classical music of Arvo Pärt, After the Rain is in two sections that are strikingly different in tone, with the first section marked by steel gray costumes and backdrop with three couples creating bold lines and intricate lifts. The second section shifts to a warmer palette as dancers embody an emotional relationship, at times becoming tender and connected while at other times pulling away or struggling to find each other. The bill will also offer George Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which was revised in 1972 from a previous choreographic endeavor titled Balustrade that premiered in 1941. Using the opening “Toccata,” two central “Arias” and the final “Capriccio” from Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D, Balanchine forms contrasting pas de deux for two different couples. Dancers resemble musical notes floating over the stage in Balanchine’s sensual and saucy homage to the genius of Igor Stravinksy. The fall program will include a third piece, to be announced at a later date. This program will be presented October 13 – 24, 2010.


December 11 – 26, 2010

The Nutcracker

Possibly America’s #1 Nutcracker and Chicagoland’s most popular holiday tradition, Robert Joffrey’s production of The Nutcracker will again transform the Auditorium Theatre into a winter wonderland, complete with magical toys, dancing snowflakes and exotic sweets. The Tchaikovsky masterpiece, featuring the full Joffrey Company, ,local children’s choruses and more than 120 young dancers, will be presented in seventeen performances, December 11 – 26, 2010.


February 16 – 27, 2011

 

John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew

In February 2011, The Joffrey Ballet revisits the popular The Taming of the Shrew, last performed by The Joffrey in 2002. John Cranko’s world-renowned ballet adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic story is a romantic comedy about the trials of finding balance in love. With music by Kurt-Heinz Stolze and Domenico Scarletti, The Taming of the Shrew depicts the boastful Petruchio as he attempts to tame the strong-willed Katherine. When it originally premiered at the Stuttgart Ballet in 1969, Cranko’s translation re-defined narrative ballet through witty and subtle choreography that brought the characters and their foils vividly to life. The Joffrey will revive this two-act ballet February 16 – 27, 2011.


May 4 – 15, 2011

 
Commissioned works by Liang and Possokhov

 

The 2010-2011 Season concludes with a mixed repertory program featuring two World Premieres, by Edwaard Liang and Yuri Possokhov. A former soloist for New York City Ballet, Liang’s first work for The Joffrey, The Age of Innocence, premiered in the fall of 2008 and was met with critical and audience acclaim. His theatrical work paired 19th century romanticism with athletic prowess and a contemporary sensibility. Possokhov, a former dancer for the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and a principal dancer and choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet, has made a name for himself as an austere and charismatic dancer and a bold, innovative choreographer. The Joffrey Ballet is proud to commission these new works, being performed May 4 – 15, 2011.

Location, ticketing and info on the company’s present season can be found after the fold.

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