Joffrey's All Stars Soars through Opening Night

October 14, 2010
REVIEW by ChicagoNow.com
Natalie Cammarata

Content

Have you ever seen a dinosaur dance with a paperdoll?

It's magnificent.

 

I've seen the Joffrey Ballet's Fabrice Calmels and Victoria Jaiani dance before. I've seen them dance together. I've seen them dance alone. I've never seen them as they were last night.

Perhaps it was the costumes at last night's opening night of All Stars. For the duo's incredible pas de deux in the second half of After the Rain (choreography by Christopher Wheeldon), Jaiani wore a baby pink barely-there leotard accented with her long, flowing hair. Calmels was shirtless. Enough said, right? Except the first word that popped into my head when I saw his bare chest and rippling muscles was dinosaur. Further into the piece I changed it to beast, you know, as in "Beauty and the Beast." I'm fairly certain the result of the Beast turning into a prince would be Fabrice Calmels.

In their light-as-air costumes, the two moved effortlessly at times, establishing an emotional connection on stage that was free and airy and beautiful. Other times the movement was a struggle, indicating hardships and riffs in their relationship. This section of After the Rain was in grand contrast to the first section, in which three couples were constrained to steely gray costumes, creating a bold, harsh, tone rather than soft and graceful.

The program moved from intense to comical in the last section of the night. The Concert (or The Perils of Everybody), choreographed by Jerome Robbins, proved to be a crowd-pleaser, as the audience chuckled (no seriously, they chuckled) at the piece's perfect comedic timing. A Joffrey company premiere, this piece featured an on-stage pianist (quite literally A Concert), and some wily characters and outlandish personalities prancing and dancing to their heart's content. A satire of dance itself, the comedic vignettes showcased these colorful personaliites, from the over-the-top Ballerina to the stomping Angry Woman.

The rest of the show featured choreography by George Balanchine. The program opened with Stravinsky Violin Concerto, an upbeat ballet (and also a Joffrey premiere) rooted in Georgian folk dance. Balanchine's short Tarantella  was performed by Yumelia Garcia and Derrick Agnoletti, another pop of folk culture that wanders past the realm of traditional ballet.