Monday January 23rd 2017

Joffrey Ballet- “Unique Voices” review by Carol Moore

tjbuniquevoiceswebpageimage668x3383The Joffrey Ballet’s “Unique Voices”, a brilliant smorgasbord of contemporary ballet, includes a boot-stomping tribute to Johnny Cash from Canada; a vaguely primitive Australian import; and a chaotic ballet about ballet from Sweden. The incredibly talented Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing. I give “Unique Voices” 4 Spotlights.
The first piece, “Maninyas”, takes its name from its music, “Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra”. The stage is hung with long, shimmering, pieces of fabric which the dancers frequently manipulate. Although the dancers are paired according to the color of their costumes (Purple: April Daly, Miquel Angel Blanco; Red: Anastacia Holden, Edson Barbosa; Blue: Victoria Jaiani, Rory Hohenstein; Green: Christine Rocas, John Mark Giragosian; Brown: Amber Newmann, Yoshihisa Arai), the dance movements are performed individually, sequentially, in pairs, in trios, and as a group. “Maninyas”, by Australian choreographer, Stanton Welch, is primitive but very sophisticated; a stunning piece.
You’ll have to throw away all of your pre-conceived ideas about ballet after you’ve seen “The Man in Black”, especially the one about shoes. These four dancers, Derrick Agnoletti, Edson Barbosa, Fernando Duarte and Joanna Wozniak, don’t wear ballet shoes, they wear cowboy boots! No tights and tutus, either. Then there’s the music … quiet, contemplative vocals sung by Johnny Cash in his “American” album collection. Canadian choreographer James Kudelka has incorporated elements of Western dances like the old-fashioned square dance as well as contemporary line dances, swing dances and the foot-stomping Texas two-step into this joyful piece.
The final ballet, “Tulle” by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, was a rather chaotic, very exciting ballet about ballet. Interviews with dancers were showing on LED screens. Everyone wore white, while the ballerinas’ tutus had “… those skirts that stand straight out,” as mentioned in an early comment. The entire Joffrey company danced in “Tulle”. A circus couple, April Daly and Miguel Angel Blanco , wore red and white. At first I thought the business-suit wearing Guide (Alexis Polito) was strutting around in stilettos, then I discovered the stilettos were toe shoes! “Tulle” was busy, chaotic, and fun to watch!
In all three ballets, the dancers used their feet for percussion-like emphasis, their heels in “The Man in Black”, their toe shoes in “Maninyas” and in “Tulle”.joffrey
The Joffrey Ballet’s “Unique Voices” runs through February 22nd 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 $32-$155. Parking tip: go to www.auditoriumtheatre.org/plan-your-visit/parking-and-directions/ for a printable coupon good for $3 off on parking. FYI (800) 982-2787 or at www.ticketmaster.com.

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