THE JOFFREY BALLET LAUNCHES ITS 2010-2011 STARS SEASON WITH ALL STARS

September 13, 2010
PRESS RELEASE
The Joffrey Ballet

Content

 

A FALL PROGRAM FEATURING WORKS BY MASTER CHOREOGRAPHERS

GEORGE BALANCHINE, JEROME ROBBINS, AND CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON

 

 

 

At the Auditorium Theatre, October 13 – 24

 

CHICAGO – September 13, 2010 – Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater presents the 2010-2011 Stars season, launching with All Stars, a mixed repertory program of four works—three of which are Company Premieres—by three iconic New York choreographers:  George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon.  The All Stars program will be presented at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, October 13 – 24, 2010.  All Stars marks the first Joffrey program to include an additional Thursday performance on October 21, making ten performances throughout the run – up from nine in previous seasons.

 

“The autumn program features ballets created on the New York City Ballet by three of its resident choreographers: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Christopher Wheeldon,” said Wheater.  “The relationship between these choreographers and the Joffrey Ballet is nearly as old as the Joffrey itself.   When Robert Joffrey first started the Company, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins offered their choreography in support of the fledgling troupe.  When I became Artistic Director, Christopher Wheeldon offered Carousel, and now, After the Rain, to the Joffrey.  I would like to dedicate this series of performances to the creative force of the New York City Ballet, in gratitude for the support we have received through the years from these master choreographers.”

 

The All Stars program opens with the Joffrey Premiere of George Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which was revised in 1972 from a previous choreographic endeavor titled Balustrade that premiered in 1941.  Using the opening "Toccata," two central “Arias” and the final "Capriccio" from Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D, Balanchine forms contrasting pas de deux, one soft and lyrical while the other is sharply angular, framed by grand ensemble sections.  The choreography for this festive work is rooted in the folk dance traditions of Georgia, then a part of the Soviet Union, imbuing Balanchine’s characteristically intricate and demanding movement with a Russian flavor appropriate for an homage to the genius of Stravinsky.

 

The program continues with Christopher Wheeldon’s emotionally resonant After the Rain (2005), also a Joffrey Premiere.  While many dance companies have performed parts of this work, The Joffrey Ballet is the first company outside of Wheeldon’s own to be awarded the rights to perform the entire piece.  Set to the minimalist, classical music of Arvo Pärt, After the Rain is in two sections that are strikingly different in tone, with the first section marked by steel gray costumes and backdrop with three couples creating bold lines and intricate lifts.  The second section shifts to a warmer palette as dancers embody an emotional relationship, at times becoming tender and connected while at other times pulling away or struggling to find each other.  The work juxtaposes the harsh with the soft as dancers explore the space between them in an emotional push-and-pull. 

 

The program will also include Balanchine’s Tarantella (1964), set to the Grand Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, op.67, by Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Hershy Kay.  The profusion of steps and the quick changes of direction in this brief but explosive pas de deux typify the ways in which Balanchine expanded the traditional vocabulary of classical dance.  Tarantella premiered on The Joffrey Ballet last Spring.

 

The program will close with the Company Premiere of Jerome RobbinsThe Concert (or The Perils of Everybody), originally created in 1956.  Set to music by Frédérick Chopin played by an on-stage pianist, The Concert (or The Perils of Everybody) is a light-hearted satire of dance itself, setting off-beat characters in a series of comedic vignettes about how people’s minds roam during a concert.  Audiences are introduced to the Ballerina, the Angry Woman, the Shy Boy, the Husband and Wife, the chatty Matinee Girls, and an ensemble of likewise colorful personalities as fantasies and daydreams are played out to great comedic effect.  This playful and charming ballet showcases Robbins’ signature balance of physical humor and technical virtuosity.

 

About the Choreographers

George Balanchine, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet.  After serving as the ballet master for Russia’s Les Ballet Russe, he came to the United States in late 1933 at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein.  With Kirstein’s help, Balanchine opened the School of American Ballet a year later and by 1935 the two founded The American Ballet.  In 1948 the New York City Ballet was formed, with Balanchine serving as its ballet master and principal choreographer until his death in 1983.  A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet.  Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance.  Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.  In the spring of 1975, Balanchine was inducted into the Entertainment Hall of Fame in Hollywood and in 1978, he was one of the first recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.  The most prestigious of awards that was given to Balanchine was the 1983 Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor that can be conferred on a civilian in the United States.  The Joffrey Ballet’s most recent performance of a full Balanchine ballet was Apollo in 2006.

 

Jerome Robbins is world-renowned for his work as a choreographer of ballets as well as his work as a director and choreographer in theater, movies and television.  Although he began as a modern dancer, his start on Broadway was as a chorus dancer before joining the corps de ballet of American Ballet Theatre in 1939, where he went on to dance principal roles in the works of Fokine, Tudor, Massine, Balanchine, Lichine and de Mille.  While embarking on his career in the theater, Robbins simultaneously created ballets for New York City Ballet, which he joined in 1949, and became an Associate Artistic Director with George Balanchine.  In addition to two Academy® Awards for the film West Side Story, Robbins has received four Tony® Awards, five Donaldson Awards, two Emmy® Awards, the Screen Directors' Guild Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.  Robbins was a 1981 Kennedy Center Honors Recipient and was awarded the French Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur.  Robbins passed away in 1998.  The Joffrey Ballet last performed Robbins’ In the Night in Fall 2008.

 

Christopher Wheeldon is among today’s most innovative contemporary ballet choreographers.  Born in Somerset, England, Wheeldon developed an affinity for music and movement at an early age.  At age 11, after studying at the East Coker Ballet School, Wheeldon entered The Royal Ballet School and joined The Royal Ballet company in 1991.  In 1993 Christopher Wheeldon traveled to New York where he soon accepted a position with New York City Ballet, where he served as Resident Choreographer from 2001 to 2008.  Wheeldon has shown his versatility by working in various mediums.  He choreographed the ballet sequences in Nicholas Hytner’s film Center Stage (2000) and they collaborated again on the Broadway musical The Sweet Smell of Success (2002).  Wheeldon made his operatic debut with the “Dance of the Hours” in the Metropolitan Opera House’s revival of Amilcare Ponchiellis’ La Gianconda (2006). Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company in 2007 with the goal of introducing a new spirit of innovation to classical ballet.  He resigned as Artistic Director of Morphoses in February 2010 and continues to work as a freelance choreographer.  Joffrey last performed a Wheeldon work, Carousel (A Dance), in Spring 2009.

 

Performance Schedule and Pricing for All Stars:

The performance schedule for All Stars at the Auditorium Theatre is as follows: Wednesday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, October 17 at 2:00 p.m.; Thursday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 24 at 2:00 p.m.

 

Single tickets, priced from $25 to $145, are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office, located in the lobby of 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 Stars season continues with America’s #1 Nutcracker and Chicagoland’s most popular holiday tradition, Robert Joffrey’s production of The Nutcracker, which will again transform the Auditorium Theatre into a winter wonderland complete with magical toys, dancing snowflakes and exotic sweets.  The Tchaikovsky masterpiece, featuring the full Joffrey company, local children’s choruses and more than 120 young dancers, will be presented in seventeen performances, December 10 – 26, 2010.   

 

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support from its 2010-2011 Season Sponsors and extends special thanks to Abbott Fund and NIB Foundation, co-sponsors of the Stars season; United Airlines, Official & Exclusive Airline; Weiss Memorial Hospital, Official Healthcare Provider; UBS, Live Music Sponsor; AthletiCo, Official Provider of Rehabilitation, Fitness and Performance; and MAC, Official Cosmetic Sponsor.  The Joffrey would also like to acknowledge its Stars Season Partners, including: Sara Lee Foundation, Groupon, and Whole Foods Market; and the W Chicago Hotel, Official Hotel Sponsor for All Stars.

 

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet, please visit its newly redesigned website at joffrey.org

 

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