Closing out its 2014-15 season and its celebration of 20 years in Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet’s latest endeavor is yet another example of why this ballet company is ranked as one of the best in the country. With a spectacular display of strength, beauty, and fluidity, New Works delivers exactly what the name implies, two Joffrey/Chicago premieres and a U.S premiere (along with the return of a favorite).
The program begins with In Creases, a Joffrey/Chicago premiere of New York City Ballet resident choreographer and soloist Justin Peck’s first work from 2012. The dance is set to Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos, which is performed live on two grand pianos onstage alongside the dancers. This energetic dance, involving four male and four female dancers, is very modern, with precise, bold arm movements, and the very rhythmic music perfectly complements the modernity of the dance movements.
Lithurgy, the second of the program’s Joffrey/Chicago premieres, was created in 2003 by Christopher Wheeldon during his time as resident choreographer of the New York City Ballet. An abstract piece that allows the audience to bring its own significance to the work, Lithurgy was created for two dancers, one male, one female, and is performed to the poignant score of Frates by Arvo Pärt. The dance shows some Indian influence at the beginning, then becomes very fluid with incredible slow motion movements. The music and the dance are both lyrical and haunting and perfectly matched. This is a beautiful, riveting dance, with the slow pace of the dancers’ movements and the power of the music making it impossible to look away.
Next on the program is the U.S. premiere of Evenfall, created by the Joffrey’s very own ballet master, Nicolas Blanc, which he created for Joffrey dancers Derrick Agnoletti, Fabrice Calmels, Rory Hohenstein, Anastacia Holden, and Victoria Jaiani. Set to the music of Max Richter’s The Four Seasons (not to be confused with Vivaldi’s composition by the same name), the dance begins with the auditory and dance narrative of a poet to tell the story of the various seasons in the life of a couple. The poet has some unusual and intriguing dance moves, including those with a laptop and a desk, which are not simply props. Two couples, dancing to Richter’s lyrical score and utilizing life-sized frames that double as mirrors and windows, beautifully interpret the stages in a relationship, from the beginning of the romance to the later years.
The program ends with the return of another abstract work, Incantations, created by Val Caniparoli. Of the four dances, this one is the most rooted in classical ballet in its movements, although it’s not a traditional ballet at all. The music begins with chimes, and smoke appears onstage, while overhead, large, spiral cones hang from the ceiling. This dance has a quicker pace and is more energetic than the other dances with lots of leaps and flying arms and legs, all beautifully choreographed and synchronized with the meditative score, Incantations, by Russian composer Alexandre Rabinovitch-Baeakovsky.
Because the NFL Draft is being held at the Auditorium Theater, New Works is being performed at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, located at 151 W. Randolph Street in Chicago. Be aware that there is quite a bit of construction going on downtown, so you should allow some extra time to get to the theater.
New Works continues through Sunday, May 3 only. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.joffrey.org/newworks.
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