Wednesday January 17th 2018

“Global Visionaries” reviewed by Carol Moore

 Highly Recommended **** When I was a child, I was obsessed with ballet.  I was positive I was going to be a ballerina when I grew up, but alas, I wasn’t any good at it.  As an adult, I’m aware of my limitations, but I still love ballet and so I feel very privileged to be invited to attend the Joffrey Ballet’s performances.  Their spring engagement, “Global Visionaries”, is a brilliant smorgasbord of contemporary ballet.  The incredibly talented Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing.  4 Spotlights

The first piece, “The Miraculous Mandarin”, told the story of girl who is forced to act as a decoy for a gang, luring unwitting men.  The Woman (Victoria Jaiani) spends her time in a cage, except when the Thugs (Raúl Casasola, Paulo Rodrigues, Joan Sebastián Zamora) call her out.  First they rob an Old Man (Miguel Angel Blanco), then they mug a Shy Man (Temur Suluashvili).  The Mandarin (Yoshihisa Arai) fights back, but eventually, he meets a tragic end.

Béla Bartók’s wrote his pantomime-ballet, “The Miraculous Mandarin”, in 1926.  San Francisco Ballet Resident Choreographer, Yuri Posokhov, reimagined “The Miraculous Mandarin” specifically for the Joffrey.  The piece, which was first performed in 2016, features seven dancers exploring the dark passions between men and women.  The Chicago Philharmonic, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck, is on stage behind the dancers.

Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s new ballet, “Joy”, will make throw away all of your pre-conceived ideas about ballet – especially the one about shoes.  I loved this piece, it’s so creative, and the music, a mix of modern selections like Brad Mehldau Trio’s bluesy interpretation of Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell for You; Django Django’s psychedelic dance hit, First Light, Tiga’s hit Shoes and Moby’s LA5, is so light and cheerful.

Beginning with a single dancer jumping about, company members, wearing khaki suits, come on stage one by one, each doing something different to express joy.  As they continue to cavort, a voice says they are expressing joy, each in a different way, except maybe for a few who are having hissy fits.  After a while, at a prompt from the voice, all of the dancers shake off the suits, revealing flesh colored undies.  Sometimes the entire ensemble is onstage dancing in formation, sometimes it’s a solo or a duet featuring Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels, or even a series of duets.  In one movement, the female dancers practice dropping their shoes, before putting them on to perform in tight formation.  In another, one of the male dancers puts on a pair of high heels, then the entire company appears on stage wearing high heels, and they dance.

Also appearing in “Joy” were Derrick Agnoletti, Yoshihisa Arai, Amanda Assucena, Edson Barbosa, Anais Bueno, Valeria Chaykina, Nicole Ciapponi, Lucia Connolly, April Daly, Fernando Duarte, Cara Marie Gary, Dylan Gutierrez, Rory Hohenstein, Anastacia Holden, Dara Holmes, Hansol Jeong, Gayeon Jung, Yumi Kanazawa, Brooke Linford, Graham Maverick, Jeraldine Mendoza, Jacqueline Moscicke, Christine Rocas, Chloé Sherman, Temur Suluashvili, Olivia Tang-Mifsud, Alonso Tepetzi, Eliveton Tomazi, Alberto Velazquez and Joanna Wozniak.

The final ballet. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Mammatus” is a 20-minute abstract featuring 20 dancers, wearing black long-sleeved, turtleneck, body suits and black knee-highs, representing insects and birds perform in a series of ensembles and duets to the atonal “Weather One” by Michael Gordon.  Although just as complicated as the first two pieces, I didn’t like this as much, mainly because the screechy music started giving me a headache.

Featured Dancers – The Trio: Cara Marie Gary, Fernando Duarte and Graham Maverick.  Duet 1: Anais Bueno, Fabrice Calmels.  Duet 2: Anastacia Holden, Derrick Agnoletti.  Duet 3: Christine Rocas, Rory Hohenstein.  White Duet: Victoria Jaiani, Dylan Gutierrez.

Also appearing in “Mammatus” were Nicole Ciapponi, Jacqueline Moscicke, Joanna Wozniak, Derrick Agnoletti, Edson Barosa, Raúl Casasola, Hansol Jeong, Aaron Renteria and Elivelton Tomazi. 

The Joffrey Ballet’s “Global Visionaries” runs through May 7th at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Remaining performances are Thursday, May 4 at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 5 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 6 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, Sunday, May 7 at 2:00 pm.  Tickets range from $34-$159. Parking tip: go to www.auditoriumtheatre.org/plan-your-visit/parking-and-directions/ for a printable coupon good for $3 off on parking. FYI (312) 386-8905 or www.joffrey.org.

 

 

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