Joffrey Ballet Presents Re-envisioned, Re-invigorated 'Swan Lake'

October 20, 2014
Chicagoist
Michelle Meywes

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A “fresh take” on Swan Lake almost had us thinking we were in for an edgy, modern re-telling, especially coming from a noted contemporary choreographer like Christopher Wheeldon, but this re-working is still very classic ballet. Full-length narrative ballets are where Wheeldon’s head has been lately having recently re-imagined CinderellaAlice’s Adventures in Wonderlandand The Royal Ballet of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Set to the original Tchaikovsky score, this Swan Lake sticks close to the classic storyline, but places the characters inside a ballet company preparing for their own production of Swan Lake with blurred lines between reality and imagination. The result is a beautiful, fantastic telling of this tale of love and deception.

For lovers of the classic, the lakeside acts featuring large swan ensembles are still there, along with the famous 'danse des petits cygnes:' four ballerinas dancing side-by-side with linked arms. Inspired by the well-known Degas ballerina paintings, the ballet takes on that graceful impressionist look, with some cute nods to specific images. There are of course fresh Wheeldon touches as well, such as more contemporary arm placement for the swans to look more bird-like.

The UK-based Wheeldon was actually in-studio for two weeks in August working with the Joffrey dancers. The company broadcast their first ever live stream of the rehearsals so that fans could get a peek inside the creation of this type of production.

Swan Lake runs through Sunday, Oct. 26 at Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $32 - $170. Check the Joffrey's website for remaining show times.