Joffrey Ballet Presents LA BAYADÈRE: THE TEMPLE DANCER Tonight
Less than a month after its special "Russian Masters" program, The Joffrey Ballet transports Chicago audiences to India with the Chicago Premiere of La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer, choreographed by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch. La Bayadère is presented over 10 performances with orchestral accompaniment by The Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, tonight, October 16 - 27.
Set in story-book India, La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer premiered at the Houston Ballet in 2010 and revolves around Nikiya, a temple dancer in the royal courts, her secret lover Solor, and the jealousy and betrayal that rips them apart. Based on Marius Petipa's classic choreography - including the famous "Kingdom of the Shades" scene, which Welch has left intact - Welch revitalizes a 19th century classic full of the fantastic mysticism of the Orient, complete with dancing Hindu gods and live snakes.
"La Bayadère is a legendary ballet, with the third act 'Kingdom of the Shades' reigning as one of the most memorable dance sequences in the classical tradition," said Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "136 years after its creation, I sought a fresh way of telling the story. Stanton Welch's production breathes new life into La Bayadère, while retaining the best of Marius Petipa's original choreography. Stanton has compressed and clarified the story, focusing on physical action rather than traditional pantomime. The story is told through movement with athleticism that appeals to contemporary audiences."
A ballet in three acts, La Bayadère features lavish costumes and sets by British designer Peter Farmer and is accompanied byLudwig Minkus' score as arranged by John Lanchbery. The costume designs evoke a story-book India through traditional attire such as harem pants and saris. "Peter's scenic design is not a realistic depiction of India," commented Welch. "It's like looking through an old picture book from western culture with a view of romanticized India. The production has a very painterly look, almost reminiscent of Monet, which gives it dreaminess and romance." The lavish production includes 121 costumes comprised of 568 items. This also includes 26 handmade white tutus for the "Kingdom of the Shades" scene.
The ballet opens in the wild, lush jungle of India as the brave warrior Solor kills a menacing Bengal tiger, consequently saving the life of the temple dancer Nikiya. The two are love-struck, but Nikiya has devoted her life to dancing only for the gods. However, the High Priest of the temple, or Brahmin, is also in love with Nikiya. As a reward for killing the man-eating tiger, Solor is promised the hand in marriage of Gamzatti, the Rajah's daughter, a further obstacle to Solor and Nikiya's blossoming secret love. From there, the drama compounds and the twists unfurl as Nikiya and Solor struggle to fulfill their love while the forces of jealousy, vengeance and fate conspire to keep them apart.
La Bayadère's third act, the famous "Kingdom of the Shades," showcases the female ensemble dancers in white tutus, executing 38 synchronized arabesques as they slowly fill the stage, one of the purest forms of ballet-blanc, or white tutu ballet. "The 'Kingdom of the Shades' is a challenging segment because it requires such control and precision from the women," added Welch. The "Kingdom of the Shades" is so popular it is often performed on its own.
Although the exact origin of the story of La Bayadère is unknown, it is an example of 19th century Romantic ballets set in an exotic location with a fascination with the Orient, spiritualism, triangular relationships, ethereal beings and dramatic plot lines. Petipa's La Bayadère premiered on the Bolshoi Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1877.
Tickets & Performance Schedule
Single tickets range from $31 to $152 and are available now at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.