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The Joffrey Ballet Presents CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHERS, Now thru 2/23

The Joffrey Ballet Presents CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHERS, Now thru 2/23

This winter, The Joffrey Ballet revisits its contemporary roots with a mixed repertory program titled "Contemporary Choreographers," an evening of three pieces, two by some of contemporary ballet's most luminous choreographers working today and one by a local "rising star" choreographer. "Contemporary Choreographers" is presented in 10 performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, tonight, February 12-23.

Named for the well-known Chicago street, local dance-maker Brock Clawson's Crossing Ashland, created for Milwaukee Ballet in 2012 and now a Chicago and Joffrey Premiere, is a metaphor for facing change within ourselves. With movement that intertwines routine pedestrian movement with the virtuosity of ballet, Clawson explores vulnerability and the need for connection with music by John Adams, Michelle McLaughlin, Martin Tillman, M83 and Jeremy Limb.

Also on the program is the Joffrey Premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's 2002 work Continuum, set to the modernist piano music of Gyorgy Ligeti and utilizing a contemplative pace to render music into pure movement. Both the music and the movement are abstract, but Continuum demonstrates Wheeldon's ability to create mathematical, neoclassical elegance. The dancers execute movement that is geometric, clean, sparse and completely controlled as they melt into the music. The progression of solos, duets and ensembles dazzle with their inventiveness as Wheeldon continually breaks ballet rules while creating new realities. The dancers' movements are naturally driven and his dancers move from deep within, creating a sense, simultaneously wistful and profound, that one is leaving an old world and entering a new one.

Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman's Episode 31 completes the bill, which Chicago audiences got a first look at during its Chicago Premiere in the Chicago Dancing Festival 2013. A work of urgent, explosive rhythm, Episode 31 opens with a solitary, enigmatic figure slowly circling the stage. Soon, the stage is deconstructed - literally - by an ensemble of frenetic black-and-white-clad dancers before they settle into a more serene scene where a duet is danced to the reading of "Color," a poem by Christina Rossetti. Episode 31 is set to music by Mikael Karlsson, Ane Brun and Erik Satie.

"Though the Joffrey often presents choreography from both the 19th and 20th centuries, our winter program is a child of the new millennium," noted Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "In just over a decade, we have witnessed the creation of some truly pioneering work. The Joffrey is pleased to introduce three ground-breaking dances, from three very talented choreographers...perhaps a glimpse of the future."

Tickets and Schedule

Single tickets, priced between $31 and $152, 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.

"Contemporary Choreographers" opens Wednesday, February 12 and runs through Sunday, February 23. The complete performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 pm; Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 pm.

About the Choreographers

Brock Clawson is an award-winning Chicago-based choreographer. After a successful career as a dancer for various Chicago companies, Clawson's choreographic career developed during his time as a dancer and as the Artistic Associate for Thodos Dance Chicago. Clawson's first work for Thodos Dance Chicago in 2005 marked the beginning of a series of four works over the next five years with this company and the establishment of Clawson as a distinguished choreographer. Since then he has also worked with such companies as Milwaukee Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, Dance Kaleidoscope, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and The Dance Center of Columbia College. In recognition of his works, Clawson received the Dance Chicago 2005 Outstanding Choreography Award and the Cliff Dwellers Arts Organization's 2006 Choreographer of the Year Award. For more information, visit http://brockclawson.com.

Alexander Ekman is known for his fast-paced timing, witty humor and clever transitions. Ekman danced with Royal Swedish Ballet, Cullberg Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater 2. In the annual Choreography Workshop "Switch," he attracted attention for his individual style and in 2006 he decided to devote himself completely to choreography. Now Ekman is a highly in-demand choreographer internationally. He has already made many ballets for companies like the Cullberg Ballet, Compañia Nacional de Danza Goteborg Ballet, The Iceland Dance Company, Bern Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Dance, Ballet de l'Opéra du Rhin, Royal Swedish Ballet and The Norwegian National Ballet. He has also created work for festivals like "Europa Danse" in France and for the Athens International Dance Festival. For Nederlands Dans Theater 2 he made FLOCKWORK in 2006, one year laterLAB 15 (Nederlands Dans Theater 1) and Cacti in 2010 (Nederlands Dans Theater 2). In his work as a choreographer, Ekman has proven himself artistically multitalented, often creating video productions, some that accompany his stage works and others that are stand-alone pieces. Ekman also created a museum installation for the Modern Museum in Stockholm and has served as a teacher/choreographer at the Juilliard School in New York City. For more information, visit http://alexekman.com.


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by Barnett Serchuk