Joffrey Ballet Announces 2014-2015 Season - SWAN LAKE, THE MAN IN BLACK and More
Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, announces programming for the company's 2014-15 season celebrating 20 years of the Joffrey calling Chicago home. The 2014-15 anniversary season features both company favorites and a slate of eight premieres.
For the second year, following the success of the Joffrey's "Russian Masters" program that launched the 2013-14 season, an additional season opener will be presented in September, a one-weekend-only engagement featuring the return of two Joffrey repertory favorites, George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden, along with the Joffrey/Chicago Premiere of Yuri Possokhov's Asian-themed RAkU, September 18-21, 2014. The Joffrey's annual fall engagement brings the Joffrey/Chicago Premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's newly envisioned Swan Lake, October 15-26, 2014, followed by the return of the classic holiday chestnut, Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker, December 5-28, 2014. The Joffrey continues its recent tradition of presenting a contemporary program for its winter engagement, featuring three company premieres, James Kudelka'sThe Man in Black set to Johnny Cash music, Stanton Welch's Maninyas and Alexander Ekman's humorous Tulle, February 11-22, 2015. Rounding out the season is a spring program featuring the Joffrey/Chicago Premiere of New York City Ballet soloistJustin Peck's In Creases, a World Premiere by British choreographer Ashley Page and Evenfall from the Joffrey's own ballet master, Nicolas Blanc, April 22-May 3, 2015.
All performances take place in the Joffrey's home venue, the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, in downtown Chicago at 50 East Congress Parkway. Various programs throughout the season feature live orchestral accompaniment by theChicago Philharmonic conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.
In 1995, escaping a crowded New York City ballet market, then Joffrey Artistic Director Gerald Arpino relocated the company he had started with Robert Joffrey from the East Coast to Chicago with the help of a group of ardent supporters. Having successfully toured through Chicago since 1957, the company found fertile soil in a city with a rich dance heritage but, until then, no major ballet company of its own. The Joffrey Ballet quickly became a bedrock of Chicago's burgeoning theater district, moving into its own state-of-the-art home of Joffrey Tower at State and Randolph Streets in 2008 and soon after, opening The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet.
In its 20th Chicago Anniversary season, the Joffrey focuses on narrative in dance, exploring the concept of "story ballet" with a series of both repertory and evening length work that each tell a story in a freshly conceived way, either through iconic music, a familiar fantasy re-imagined, or by seeing human relationships through fresh eyes. Many choreographers who have made recent contributions to Joffrey's repertory return this season, becoming signature artists of the company.
"Next season, The Joffrey Ballet celebrates twenty years in the city of Chicago with a series of programs exploring the expressive power of dance. By telling stories drawn from diverse sources, by embracing our history and our future, we celebrate the voice and spirit of this great American city," said Wheater.
About the Season
The Joffrey launches its new season with a mixed repertory program featuring George Balanchine's Prodigal Son, Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden and the Joffrey Premiere of Yuri Possokhov's RAkU.
Prodigal Son, not performed by the Joffrey since 2000, was one of the first Balanchine ballets to achieve an international reputation. Set to music by Sergei Prokofiev, it is a dramatic story of sin and redemption based on the Gospel according to St. Luke. Wheater will make a rare return to the stage portraying the Father.
Lilac Garden, set to music by Ernest Chausson, is an intimate work showing Tudor's increasing interest in revealing psychological motivation through choreography. It is a story of a young woman who must say farewell to her lover on the eve of her arranged marriage to a man she does not love. It was last performed by The Joffrey Ballet in 2008.
Finally, Possokhov, San Francisco Ballet Resident Choreographer, brings RAkU to Chicago for the first time since its San Francisco Ballet debut in 2011. Set to music by Shinji Eshima, this contemporary ballet with a modernist, sepia-toned costume and set design with projections and moving screens, tells the tale of a Japanese emperor, his wife and a jealous monk driven mad by obsessive love. It is a stylized interpretation of the burning of the Kyoto Temple of the Golden Pavilion, brimming with lush lyricism and dark drama.
Lilac Garden, Prodigal Son and RAkU are presented in five performances only, September 18-21, 2014.
For its main fall production, The Joffrey Ballet brings a newly re-imagined Swan Lake to Chicago, choreographed by one of ballet's most acclaimed choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon. A $1.5 million production with lavish costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant and scenic design by Adrianne Lobel, Wheeldon's Swan Lake was commissioned for the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2004 to celebrate the company's 40th Anniversary. Set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's score and modeled from the original Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa choreography, Wheeldon sets Swan Lake in the 19th century milieu of the Paris Opera Ballet, during the time when Tchaikovsky was actually composing Swan Lake and when Edgar Degas was on the rise. The ballet uses actual Degas imagery to create an Opera Ballet studio as young boy Siegfried daydreams of escaping rehearsal for the lake, while the ensemble prepares for a major opening night gala. The ballerinas and their wealthy patrons serve as the central characters of the ballet in a re-telling of the classical fantasy. Swan Lake is presented in 10 performances only, October 15-26, 2014.
Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker, Chicago's most popular holiday tradition and America's #1 Nutcracker, returns for its seasonal run at the Auditorium Theatre, bringing Tchaikovsky's classic score to life with battling toys, raucous rodents, swirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers and the splendor of the full Joffrey company on stage with over 100 young dancers from the Chicagoland area. Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker is presented in 24 performances, December 5-28, 2014.