The Joffrey Ballet dancers are a sight to behold. In their element - long limbs, quick movements - they make the work of their guest choreographers appear effortless and enigmatic. Company member Fabrice Calmels is particularly captivating in his distinctive height and strength though as a whole, the company's performances as part of Rising Stars are a bright spot of the 2011 season.
The performances throughout the evening highlighted the strength and athleticism of the dancers. Set to the music of "Night Grooves" by composer Matthew Pierce and inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall, Night, a company premiere, was a showcase for quick, elongated movements. The female lead was noticeably shorter than her fellow company members which added to the dynamics of the choreography as she had to make up for and further emphasize the elongation of the piece. Julia Adam's choreography, despite the rapid pacing appears fluid on the stage. At times, the dancers' movements are playful, further corresponding with the thematic elements and musical accompaniment.
Edwaard Liang and Yuri Possohkov provided company premieres. Possokhov's Bells is set to Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and is a subversively surreal work that begins with traditional ballet structure but then ends with rhythmically curious and technically eloquent performances with each movement.
Liang's Woven Dreams closes the evening and is a sharp, visually stunning feat of sophistication and beauty. One can't help but feel wrapped up in the performances, which feel near-cinematic in their scope and charm. Featuring work by composers Benjamin Britten, Michael Galasso, Henryk Gorecki, and Maurice Ravel, Liang's dreamscapes elicit a true, visceral reaction in the audience that few companies can execute.
Final performances for Rising Stars: Thursday, May 12 at 7:30pm, Friday, May 13 at 7:30pm, Saturday, May 14 at 2pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday, May 15 at 2pm. Tickets are priced between $25 and $145 and are available at the Joffrey Ballet box office located at 10 East Randolph, the Auditorium Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster ticket centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. The Auditorium Theatre is located at 50 East Congress Parkway.
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