'American Legends' shine in Joffrey program

February 18, 2013
Northwest Indiana Times
Eloise Marie Valadez

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The Joffrey Ballet is shining off a few of its favorite ballets by American choreographers and handing them to dance fans during its "American Legends" winter show.

The production, running through Feb. 24, features numbers by Indiana native Twyla Tharp, the late Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino, Jerome Robbins of "West Side Story" fame and Stanton Welch, artistic director of the Houston Ballet.

During the matinee show on Feb. 16, the troupe was in exquisite form as they offered polished and driving performances of the varied pieces.

The concert began with Robbins' charismatic and playful "Interplay" with the company of dancers exhibiting strength and great personality in the piece with music by Morton Gould.

Arpino's "Sea Shadow," a duet by dancers Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein, proved engaging and gripping and starred music by Maurice Ravel. Audience members also had the opportunity to see a Chicago premiere of a new ballet by Stanton Welch titled "Son of Chamber Symphony."

Welch's work blended classic and contemporary choreography in a stellar piece performed in three movements. The troupe danced to music by John Adams and never faltered in capturing attention for a mix of precise, angular and at times, flowing movements.

Ending the show was Twyla Tharp's "Nine Sinatra Songs," clearly an audience favorite, and one that saw various dance couples showcasing their talents fusing ballroom and ballet.

The Tharp piece starred Sinatra's vocals as the dancers exhibited a variety of styles from romantic and sultry to comedic and silly. The women's dresses, designed by fashion great Oscar de la Renta, were also a standout.

The Joffrey Ballet will perform "American Legends" through Feb. 24 at The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Tickets range from $31 to $152. FYI: Call (800) 982-2787 or visit ticketmaster.com