‘New Works’ Review - Don’t Walk But Run (Gracefully) to the Joffrey’s Spring Program

April 23, 2015
Splash Magazine
Leanne Star


The NFL Draft has pushed The Joffrey Ballet out of their usual performance digs at the Auditorium Theatre and onto the stage of the Cadillac Palace Theatre for its spring program, “New Works.” Thanks, NFL. The Cadillac’s ample stage gives breathing room to the beautifully balanced program, each of the four pieces as strong as the next and all strongly driven by their music.


'In Creases'



The program opens with “In Creases,” created in 2012 by choreographer-of-the-moment Justin Peck for the New York City Ballet, where he is a soloist and resident choreographer. Composer Philip Glass’s“Four Movements for Two Pianos” informs the piece not only with its metronomic rhythms but also in its visual design. The rear of the stage is anchored with black back-to-back grand pianos — looking like one tamed leviathan — played by Grace Kim and Paul James Lewis. In front, the eight dancers, clad in subtle gray/white costumes by Justin Peck, evoke piano keys or fingers on a keyboard — an arpeggio of dancers.

Peck instills an elegance in even the most idiosyncratic of the movements he choreographs: legs outstretched at right angles (a more difficult position to maintain than the high extensions that woo audiences); dancers lined up behind one another, flexing their arms like a multi-limbed Buddha; the female dancers on their backs as the male dancers sidestep an obstacle course of the women’s upraised legs. “In Creases” amps up the stakes for contemporary ballet.


April Daly & Dylan Guitierrez in 'Liturgy'


The vibrating strings of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres” are the heartbeat of “Liturgy,” created in 2003 by Christopher Wheeldon. On opening night the duet featured April Daly and Dylan Gutierrez as the sensuous couple intertwined in a series of folding movements. With a slate blue backdrop (lighting byMark Stanley, recreated by Jack Mehler) that suggests the sea, the dancers appear as one graceful jellyfish, floating in the current.


Derrick Agnoletti & Anastacia Holden in 'Evenfall'



“Evenfall” begins with narration — “Do you remember when we met? An afternoon long ago. . .” (sound design by Josh Schmidt) — but the ballet continues with the orchestral music of Max Richter, inspired byVivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” The narration is in keeping with the concept of the piece, which follows a Poet (Rory Hohenstein) as he traces the story of a couple (the impossibly long-limbed Victoria Jaiani, teamed with six-foot-six Fabrice Calmels) back to their earlier years (Anastacia Holden, a petite whirlwind, and Derrick Agnoletti). Choreographed by for these dancers in 2013 by ballet master Nicolas Blanc, “Evenfall” is a Magritte painting, with atmospheric clouds skittering across the stage as the Poet’s MacBook glows with its apple of temptation. “Evenfall” is romantic, evocative and beautifully danced.


Rory Hohenstein in 'Evenfall'






It’s rare to experience a dance concert of works with equal impact, but choreographer Val Caniparoli’s“Incantations” maintains the high notes set by the earlier pieces. With its chimed music by Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky buoying the delicate movements of the ten dancers in spiral-patterned leotards by Sandra Woodall, “Incantations” is almost like summery “Nutcracker” danced beneath silvery coils in lieu of a Christmas tree. “Incantations” shimmers, the perfect end to a perfect program of dance.

‘New Work’ by The Joffrey Ballet

Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago 

Through May 3, 2015

Tickets $32 – $155 at The Joffrey Ballet box office, 10 E. Randolph; Cadillac Pallace Theatre box office;Ticketmaster or (800) 982-2787

Photos: Cheryl Mann