Saturday February 24th 2018

“Game Changers” the Joffrey Reviewed by Carol Moore

Joffrey-GameChangers-ChineseHighly Recommended **** The Joffrey Ballet’s “Game Changers”, another brilliant smorgasbord of contemporary ballet, includes “Fool’s Paradise”, a graceful, sensual, and very sexy ballet; “Infra”, a strong yet mournful urban abstract; and finally, the intricate and ever-changing patterns of “Year of the Rabbit”.  As always, the Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique while a live orchestra adds depth to the experience.  I give “Game Changers” 4 Spotlights.

Graceful, beautiful, flawless technique – these are all concepts I’ve used to describe the Joffrey Ballet.  Strength, on the other hand, isn’t an adjective I can remember using in the past.  I think strength is the underlying unifier in “Game Changers”.

The first piece, “Fool’s Paradise”, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (who also reimagined “The Nutcracker” for the Joffrey), is incredibly sensuous.  When two men first appear on stage, walking slowly forward, they look nude.  Actually, the dancers are wearing flesh colored costumes, the men in tights, the women in slip dresses over leotards.  Their bodies form living sculptures, moving through solos, duets and trios – the pairs: Jeraldine Mendoza and Paulo Rodrigues; Christine Rocas and Dylan Gutierrez; Anastacia Holden and Derrick Agnoletti.  Yoshihisa Arai, Amanda Assucena and Alberto Velazquez are the trio.  Whatever the meaning of “Fool’s Paradise” – and it’s left up to the audience to figure it out – it’s absolutely beautiful.

Joffrey-GameChangers-leap

“Infra”, choreographed by Wayne McGregor, is a true abstract, conveying strength and muscularity and gritty urbanism.  Their costumes, simple solid colored shirts with trunks in a contrasting color, are workmanlike.  Above the dancers, commuters walk across a huge LED screen.  Straight-line and strength movements with ever shifting pairings are all through the dance.   The women in “Infra” are Anastacia Holden, Dara Holmes, Yumi Kanazawa, Brooke Linford, Anais Bueno and April Daly.  The men in “Infra” are Graham Maverick, Derrick Agnoletti, Elivelton Tomazi, Alonso Tepetzi, Edson Barbosa and Dylan Gutierrez.

The final ballet, “Year of the Rabbit”, choreographed by Justin Peck, is inspired by the Chinese zodiac.  The music is a classical orchestration of American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ electronic song cycle, “Enjoy Your Rabbit”.  Although the dancers are forming intricate forms, their striking blue costumes make the piece light and cheerful.

 

The seven parts of “Year of the Rabbit” with featured dancers are: Year of the Ox, Nicole Ciapponi; Year of the Rabbit, Hansol Jeong; Year of the Tiger, Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein; Year of the Dragon, Victoria Jaiani, Nicole Ciapponi and Fabrice Calmels; Year of the Rooster, Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein; Year of our Lord, Victoria Jaiani and Hansol Jeong; and Year of the Boar, Nicole Ciapponi, Hansol Jeong, Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein.

Joffrey-GameChangers-pas de deuxThe Joffrey Ballet’s “Game Changers” runs through February 26th at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday 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.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Game Changers”

 

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