Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rising Stars

Rising Stars

Emma and I were more than eager to take in the Joffrey Ballet's final offering in their 2010-11 Stars season.  Whereas 'All Stars,' the season's opening offering, featured veteran choreographers whose work has already made a significant mark on the dance world, this production featured a trio of shorter works created by notable up and coming choreographers.  Two of the works were commissioned by the Joffrey and made their world premier during this run and the third was a Joffrey Premier.  It is a rare and exciting opportunity to take in new ballet works and  overall this was an excellent evening of dance!
Night
Choreography by Julia Adam
Music by Composed by Matthew Pierce
Joffrey Premier: May 4th, 2011
World Premier: San Fransisco Ballet, 2000

Former San Fransisco Ballet principal dancer, Julia Adam's, piece was judged a little harshly by some Chicago dance critics for appearing dated, immature, and unimaginative, but both Emma and I disagreed with that assessment.  The piece, inspired by Chagall's artwork, follows a woman through her dreams.  Anastacia Holden is fast becoming one of my favorite Joffrey dancers and performed with admirable power and precision last night.  Her interaction with her dream time counterparts evoked imagery of falling, flying, climbing, and chasing typically associated with common memorable dreams.  Amber Neuman, Christine Rocas, and Joanne Wozniack were standouts as an evolving trio that shifted between nebulous and attacking. 

More so than anything else, the company simply seemed happy performing the work; they were inspired and precise and proud.  The piece itself built a frenzied and artful tension that had Emma sitting on the very edge of her seat until it's abrupt ending  made her gasp aloud.  In a way it looked like she had woken up from a dream when she turned to me and said, "I just loved that!"  I don't think Night is a piece that welcomes scrutiny; it is a work that is simply meant to be enjoyed. Emma and I both did.
Intermission
Bells
Choreography by Yuri Possokhov
Music by Sergei Rachmaninov
World Premier:  The Joffrey Ballet, May 4th, 2011

"Each lover has a theory of his own, about the difference between the ache of being with his love and being alone." W.H. Auden

Yuri Possokhove gave quite a gift to the Joffrey with his creation of Bells.  The modern choreography hearkened back to Russian folk dance at times and Valerie Robin and Jonathan Dummar were close to flawless in their execution of Yuri's vision.  It was not an uplifting tale; relationships were passion driven and
decimated in a single section of dance.  It was was a sexy visual feast and a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, but the tender duet of love and loss danced by real life husband and wife Temur Suluashvili and Victoria Jaiani left me pondering the complexities of adult relationships.  Okay...I said 'ponder,' but I didn't need to think on it for ages and the end of Bells, with it's extraordinarily long curtain close, honestly left me more than a little cold.  The Joffrey dancers showed considerable athleticism and endurance (especially the men in the 5th movement) and at the end of it all they just stood there while the curtain literally crawled to a close.  It was an overly dramatic and indulgent end to an otherwise lovely premier.
Intemission
Woven Dreams
Choreography by Edward Liang
Music by Maurice Ravel, Michael Galasso, Benjamin Britten, and Henryk Gorecki
World Premier:  The Joffrey Ballet, May 4th, 2011

As far as rising stars are concerned, Edward Liang, is definitely one to watch.  In autumn of 2008 Leif and I had the privilege of watching Liang's first Joffrey premier, Age of Innocence, and were immediately captivated.  Woven Dreams had Emma on the edge of her seat again and the addition of a large web provided an intriguing stage element ...at times it simply hung around capturing the light and at others it seemed to have a life of it's own and interact with the dancers.  Christine Rocas and Fabrice Calmels attacked Liang's aggressive choreography with confidence.   Liang arranges dancers in a manner that draws the audience into the fold and Jack Mehler's lighting paradoxically holds the viewer at bay leaving enough room for real emotion to develop in the work.  Emma and I were both impressed.
We already have our season tickets ordered for next year and if you have any love of dance you'd be wise to do the same. Don Quixote is first up next season...buy your tickets.

Photo credit: Herbert Migdoll

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