Joffrey Ballet's SWAN LAKE to Make Chicago Premiere, 10/15-26

September 15, 2014
Broadway World


The Joffrey Ballet celebrates its 20th anniversary of calling Chicago home in the 2014-15 season and its annual fall engagement brings the Joffrey Premiere of a newly envisioned Swan Lake to Chicago for the first time, choreographed by one of ballet's most acclaimed choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon. Continuing Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater's endeavor to bring re-imagined story-ballets to Chicago audiences, this performance represents the first time The Joffrey Ballet has ever performed a Swan Lake in its almost 60-year history. Swan Lake is presented at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, in 10 performances only, October 15 - 26.

"Over the years, I have seen many versions of Swan Lake," noted Wheater. "This is an iconic ballet, and most people are familiar with the story and Tchaikovsky's magnificent score. I was at the premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's new production. I remember saying to him, 'If I ever direct a company, I want to present your Swan Lake.' There is something so fresh and so well-integrated about his idea. He is a master story-teller with an innate sense of musicality. After working with us, Chris wrote to the dancers, 'Find purpose in every moment you are on the stage.' Good advice for anyone."

A $1.5 million production with opulent costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant and scenic design by Adrianne Lobel, Wheeldon's Swan Lake was commissioned for the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2004 to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary. Set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's timeless score and modeled from the original Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa choreography, Wheeldon sets Swan Lake in the 19th century of the Paris Opera Ballet, during the time when Tchaikovsky was actually composing Swan Lake in Moscow and when a young impressionist named Edgar Degas was on the rise in Paris.

A ballet in four acts, Wheeldon's Swan Lake opens in the ballet studio as dancers prepare for a major opening night. Fans of Degas' "ballerinas" collection will recognize familiar poses as the ballerinas begin to warm up, as Wheeldon has incorporated imagery from many Degas paintings into the opening choreography. Siegfried, a young company dancer, is preparing for a lead role while his mother - a major patron of the company - oversees the rehearsal and openly laments his lack of a wife. After a rigorous rehearsal, Siegfried stays behind while the others break to go over his role in his mind, soon becoming swept up in his own fantasy. As Act II begins, the rehearsal studio melts away and Siegfried finds himself at a mysterious but enchanting lake surrounded by majestic swans. In the moonlight, the swans are revealed to be maidens and Odette, Queen of the Swans, steps forth. Siegfried, wielding a crossbow, must show Odette he means them no harm as he slowly gains her trust and her love. Lurking in the shadows, though, is the sinister Von Rothbart, who holds cryptic dominion over the swans.

As Act III opens, Siegfried must come back to reality, finding himself in the studio once again while the company is in the midst of a masquerade gala. The dancers entertain the wealthy patrons with choreography both graceful and bawdy, including a saucy can-can number. Von Rothbart appears again, here as one of the dignified patrons, and brings the darkly enchanting Odile, identical to Odette, to charm Siegfried and lead him away from Odette. Siegfried, at first enamored, realizes the truth and rushes from the studio to return to the lake to find the real Odette. In the climatic Act IV, Siegfried, surrounded by the swans, desperately searches for Odette as Von Rothbart tries to keep them apart in the timeless struggle between evil and the transcendent power of love.

Throughout the production, Wheeldon plays with themes of fantasy, illusion and transformation, juxtaposing both time, setting and characters to reveal a new way to see this classic fairytale ballet.

The Joffrey Ballet performs Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake Wednesday, October 15 through Sunday, October 26. The full performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 18 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2 pm; Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 25 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 26 at 2 pm

Single tickets, priced from $32 to $170, 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 at