A Dreamer's Paradise: Joffrey Ballet's Rising Stars

May 4, 2011
Chicago Now
Natalie Cammarata


Imagine you're asleep, and Victoria Jaiani, Fabrice Calmels, Anastacia Holden, and the rest of the Joffrey dancers are weaving leaps and turns through the corners of your mind. As you wake, you find yourself in a foreign place with people you may or may not now, and you feel as though you're flying, falling, or walking on air.

Sound like a dream? Good, because it is one. Tonight was opening night of Joffrey Ballet's Rising Stars, the final performance of the company's season. A unique arrangement of diverse choreography, the show was a journey through dreams, reality, the human mind, and pieces of a past recreated to live another day in the mind of the dreamer.

The stunner was Edward Liang's Woven Dreams (world premiere). The entire cast was spot on in frosty blue bodysuits, dancing through and in front of a stage-wide sparkling woven fabric that hung from above, which I imagine represents the connections between reality and dreams. Christine Rocas and Temur Suluashvilli performed the first duet, and the second and third by always in sync Fabrice Calmels and Victoria Jaiani. Although Jaiani looks scarily paper thin next to her fellow female counterparts, for some reason she is always a vision when alongside Calmels.

One of the best movements was a five man ensemble (Derrick Agnoletti, John Mark Giragosian, Aaron Rogers, Lucas Segovia, and Mauro Villanueva) who packed so much punch and energy into the piece that the audience was audibly "oohing," "aahing" and gasping each time they fell to the floor and smacked the stage with each hand in unison, only to get back up for another go. Fantastic!

The other pieces were strong as well. Night, choreographed by Julia Adam, fit nicely in the program with Woven Dreams. First premiered by the San Francisco ballet in 2000, Night is an adventure through one woman's dream (performed by the tiny Anastacia Holden) as she flies, falls, and runs away from her dream-people. Holden played the dreamer quite well, as she flitted about the stage, falling in and out of her dream state.

The dream men were wearing what I would like to officially name Cloudpants (see photo), or fluffy light blue pants that look like clouds. I hated them at first, but they grew on me as I couldn't imagine the dream men wearing anything other than the Cloudpants. The best part? At the very end, Holden gets lifted up to stand on a dream man's shoulders and falls backwards as the lights go out. Isn't that how all the good dreams end?

The third piece, Bells (world premiere), was choreographed by Russian choreographer Yuri Possokhov. In the opening video Possokhov described his piece as a blast from the past (well, not in so many words) in which old memories get dredged up to live another day in the mind of the dreamer. Quite a bit of sorrow and troubles for one piece, but Possokhov said himself that he is Russian and is always digging up the past, unlike us good ol' Americans who are always looking to the future.

A fantastic end to the season! So, so, so looking forward to what Joffrey will bring to the table next year with Don Quixote, On the Threshold, and Spring Desire. Guess we'll just have to dream about it...