The Joffrey Ballet's 2013-14 "Masters of Dance" season comes to a close this spring with the U.S. Premiere of Krzysztof Pastor'sRomeo & Juliet. Pastor, Director of the Polish National Ballet and Resident Choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet, originally created this new version ofRomeo & Juliet in 2008 for the Scottish Ballet. His work has never before been seen in Chicago. Romeo & Juliet runs for 10 performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, today,April 30 - May 11.
A ballet in three acts, this contemporary rendition of the classic Shakespearean tale is set in Italy and uses a multimedia video backdrop to depict three different political eras of the 20th century. Throughout each time period, the timeless tale of love and loss unfolds to the darkly intense score by Sergei Prokofiev performed live by the Chicago Philharmonic under the baton of Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck.
The ballet opens with imagery of Italy in the 1930's, the time of Mussolini and the rise of Fascism. The Capulet family represents the upper class conservatives with stiff, militaristic movement, while the Montegues represent the liberal low and middle classes, danced with loose, flowing motions laced with pedestrian naturalism.
The second act shifts to the 1950's, the rise of the Red Brigade and increased political terrorism, a fitting scene for the tensions blocking Romeo and Juliet's passionate romance. The third act, closer to the 1990's during Berlusconi's leadership and increasing social divisions, escalates the conflict toward the story's tragic conclusion. Costumes and sets are designed byTatyana van Walsum.
Pastor's counterpoint of the star-crossed lovers and real world politics heightens the universal plight - applicable to lovers from any conflicting background, political, ethnic, religious or otherwise - and amplifies the metaphor of a group sacrificing its individuals for the sake of divisive politics.
Bravura dancing, touching lyricism and epic storytelling unite in this rendering of ill-fated true love. This performance is a co-presentation with the Polish National Ballet, which just premiered Pastor's Romeo & JulietMarch 7, 2014.
"Though most people are familiar with the Romeo and Juliet story, I was interested in exploring how we tell the tale today," said Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "If a story is universal, it will translate to our time and our language: in this case, the language of classical ballet with a contemporary accent. As with Lar Lubovitch'sOthello, the narrative is explained through physical movement, rather than traditional mime. The action is driven by Prokofiev's brilliant score, brought to full realization by Maestro Scott Speck and the Chicago Philharmonic."
"When Ashley took the artistic reins of the Joffrey seven years ago, it was with a vision of engaging new choreographers and supporting the creation of new work," said Greg Cameron, Joffrey Ballet Executive Director. "With Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo & Juliet, we do just that, bringing a new story-ballet to the U.S. for the first time. It's filled with beautiful choreography just as much as with political ideas that will provoke thought and discussion. It's moving and challenging at the same time. It perfectly embodies Joffrey's history with political dance and its long-term vision of propelling the art form forward."
Tickets and Schedule
Single tickets, which range from $31 to $152, are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 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 atwww.ticketmaster.com.
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