The Joffrey Ballet's "Rising Stars"
program, the troupe's final engagement of the season, plays this
Wednesday, May 4, through May 15 and features works by a trio of
Two of the pieces are by choreographers Joffrey artistic director
Ashley Wheater grew to know out West in his days with the San Francisco
Ballet. Yuri Possokhov, a onetime dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, has
been associated with the San Francisco troupe for many years, but he is
creating a brand new work for the Joffrey: "Bells" set to Sergei
Rachmaninoff. Julia Adam trained in Canada, danced with San Francisco,
and first premiered her "Night" with that company in 2000. She came to
town to re-stage it for the Joffrey.
But for all this Golden Gate glitter, "Rising Stars" has a work very
much tinged by the country's East Coast ballet aesthetic as well.
Edwaard Liang, the talented dance maker who created his earlier complex
and richly designed "Age of Innocence" for the Joffrey, is a former New
York City Ballet performer. "Woven Dreams" is his second original work
for the Joffrey, this one set to music by four different composers.
"Innocence" throbbed with a subtext, its ballroom trappings part of
Liang's empathy for the plight of women in an earlier, more repressive
"I think with this new one I wanted to do something different," Liang
said in an interview last week. "It has ideas, but it's definitely more
The title says it all. "For a long time, since I was little, I've had
recurring dreams, and I wanted to make a ballet about those feelings,
about changes in consciousness. When you dream, images come in different
segments, kind of connected, but not really," he continued. "In one,
you're flying across a cornfield. In the next, you're in Paris having
dinner. Or at home having a conversation. Every piece is different, and
yet they're the same, too, maybe the same friend is in all three dreams.
Maybe the person in the dream actually stands for someone else, I've
read in books. The premise here is what is reality and what are
Certainly a great idea for a ballet. Just as interesting is the
plucky mix of composers: Benjamin Britten, Maurice Ravel, Henryk Gorecki
and Michael Galasso, a multi-disciplinary music maker whose credits
include theater and the movies. "I've loved his music for a long time,"
Liang said. "The overall mix of this score is quirky, but, when I listen
to it, it feels right."
One thing "Woven Dreams" shares with "Innocence": a large cast. There
are 18 dancers this time around, suggesting a choreographer comfortable
working on a large canvas. Also, Liang worked in collaboration with set
designer Jeff Bauer, in a way that converts the "woven' in the title
into something of a pun. "The set is a woven fabric, connected to the
rigging system and moving up, down and sideways," Liang noted. "It's
black, but with this iridescence, so the lighting can bring it out or
make it dull."
Odds are, given Liang's brief-but-brilliant track record, those
segments of blandly lit fabric will be the only dull thing in "Dreams."
"Rising Stars" plays May 4-15 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. For tickets: (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
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