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Joffrey Ballet Presents UNIQUE VOICES Contemporary Program, 2/11

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On the proverbial heels of its recent record-breaking engagement of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker, The Joffrey Ballet continues its 2014-15 season with "Unique Voices," a winter program of three contemporary ballets including the U.S. Premiere of Tulle by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, alongside the Chicago Premieres of Canadian choreographer James Kudelka's The Man in Black and Australian choreographer Stanton Welch's Maninyas. These three leading artists, all former Joffrey guest choreographers, return with work in distinctly different styles from what Chicagoans have seen before. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, The Joffrey Ballet presents "Unique Voices" in ten performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway,February11-22, 2015.

"Each of the choreographers in the 'Unique Voices' program is based in the classical language, but each of them has explored how that language has allowed them to find real freedom in their ideas," said Wheater. "When we look at our art form today, there are so many ways to dance and tell stories. We have to be open and try new things. This program is a broad sweep of styles and settings that will take you on an emotional journey."

Kudelka's The Man in Black sets an ensemble of three men and a woman, all in cowboy boots, against music sung by soulful American crooner Johnny Cash. Six songs, all covered by the iconic Cash as part of his "American" album collection, reflect working-class grit, lighthearted looseness and moving tenderness. James Kudelka's choreography riffs off several popular American country-western dance styles - line, square, swing, step dancing - retaining their vernacular, almost colloquial character, yet generating imagery that complements the songs' varying moods and emotional undercurrents. The 'Damn Your Eyes' defiance of the traditional folk song Sam Hall contrasts with the aching melancholy of Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) Hurt and heartache of Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind. A 2010 premiere for the BalletMet Columbus, this will be the first time The Man in Black is seen in Chicago. Chicagoans may remember Kudelka's most recent work, Pretty BALLET, a Joffrey World Premiere in 2010 and performed again by the company in 2012. Learn more about choreographer James Kudelka here.

Originally created for San Francisco Ballet in 1996, Welch's Maninyas is also a small ensemble work, a series of duets and trios set to the Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Australian composer Ross Edwards. A mix of contemporary and classical ballet, it presents dancers moving in and out of a series of shimmering veils, a dance metaphor for the unveiling of one's self in a relationship, that gradual and sometimes frightening process of revealing layers both physical and emotional. Welch considers Maninyas one of the turning points for his career and one of his most successful ballets. Also in the Joffrey Ballet repertory are Welch's La Bayadere: The Temple Dancer and Son of Chamber Symphony, both last performed in 2013. Learn more about choreographer Stanton Welch here.

Ekman's wild and rhythmic Episode 31 took Chicago by storm when it premiered on the Joffrey during the 2013 Chicago Dancing Festival. Ekman returns to Joffrey with Tulle (Tyll in Swedish), a stunning, multi-media ballet about ballet set to music by Mikael Karlsson. Premiered in 2012 at the Royal Opera House of Stockholm, it was Ekman's first piece working with pointe shoes and classical ballet vocabulary and is his affectionate commentary on the art form and its history. Tullefeatures the whole company and, in characteristic Ekman style, incorporates video projected on three huge LED screens featuring interviews with the dancers with their candid and often humorous thoughts on ballet. Learn more about choreographer Alexander Ekman here.

Tickets and Schedule

The Joffrey Ballet performs "Unique Voices" Wednesday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 22; the full performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 14 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm;Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 pm; Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 21 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 pm.

Single tickets, priced from $32 to $155, are available for purchase 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.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2014-15 Season Sponsors and Partners and would like to acknowledge a generous contribution made in celebration of Jay Franke's birthday to sponsor the production of Tulle as well as support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to Maninyas Production Sponsor, Bill and Orli Staley; Co-Sponsors of the 2014-2015 Season: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago and NIB Foundation; New Work Presenting Sponsor, The Anne and Burt Kaplan Fund of the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation; Official Airline, United Airlines; Official Provider of Physical Therapy, Athletico; Official Hotel, JW Marriott; and Official Health Club, Chicago Athletic Clubs.

For more information about The Joffrey Ballet and its programs visit joffrey.org.


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