Joffrey Ballet Tells Short Stories With Full Heart In 'Stories In Motion'

September 17, 2014
Chicagoist
Michelle Meywes

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Sometimes it takes a full evening to tell a story through dance alone, but there are some pieces that need only one movement to take you on an emotional ride. That's the theme of this weekend’s special Joffrey Ballet program, “Stories In Motion,” as they open their 20th anniversary season in Chicago.

The program consists of three pieces, including George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Anthony Tudor's Lilac Garden, but we got a sneak preview of Yuri Possokhov's story ballet, RAkU, which will be making its Chicago premiere. A friend of the Joffrey—artistic director Ashley Wheater has already added several of Possokhov’s pieces to the repertory—his choreography is fresh and unconventional with unusual lifts and partner work that are simply captivating.

The story is one of a Japanese emperor and his wife based on the burning of the Kyoto Temple of the Golden Pavilion. When the emperor is called to war, a lonely monk takes his obsession with the empress too far, with tragic results. RAkU is an all-male piece with the exception of the empress making for a powerful gender dynamic. It’s a demanding role for the female lead which will be portrayed by three different dancers over the run. At times romantic and others wicked, this beautiful ballet is one short story with a complete and satisfying narrative.

“Stories In Motion” runs for weekend only with five performances at the Auditorium Theater (50 E Congress Pkwy.), beginning 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18. For the full schedule, check theJoffrey’s websiteTickets are $32 to $155.