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Pictured: Joffrey Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s SWAN LAKE. Photo by Cheryl Man.
Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, has announced the 2018-19 season, featuring the world premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina, presented as part of a first-time collaboration between The Joffrey Ballet and the renowned Australian Ballet, along with a world premiere by rising urban dance star Andrea Walker, the Chicago Premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Kairos and the return of two popular works by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.
The Joffrey kicks off its 63rd season by bringing back Wheeldon’s modern re-telling of Swan Lake, October 17-28, followed by his reimagined The Nutcracker, December 1-30. For its winter engagement, the Joffrey presents Possokhov’s new full-length ballet Anna Karenina, February 13-24 and concludes its season with a mixed repertory program that includes Kairos, Andrea Walker’s yet-untitled world premiere, and Sir Frederick Ashton’s iconic Symphonic Variations, April 24- May 5.
All performances take place at the Auditorium Theatre. All programs feature live music performed by the Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.
“The Joffrey has consistently shown a desire to lead artistically and culturally,” said Wheater. “Our upcoming season harkens back to all-time classics, but also provides a window to the future. Our collaboration with The Australian Ballet is momentous on so many levels—from the scale of the production to the interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal work of fiction. I am also thrilled to present a program of works by some of the United Kingdom’s most influential artists including Wayne McGregor, rising star Andrea Walker, and one of ballet’s most revered artists, Sir Frederick Ashton. This upcoming season is packed with substance.”
The Joffrey also announced that it will travel to Paris, France, at the invitation of Les Étés de la Danse (“The Summer of Dance”), an annual festival that welcomes prominent dance companies, artists and choreographers to Europe each summer. This year, the festival will present Hommage à Jérôme Robbins (Tribute to Jerome Robbins), a program honoring the 100th anniversary of Jerome Robbins’ birth. Performances take place June 25-30, 2018. The Joffrey will present two works choreographed by Robbins as part of a shared bill with New York City Ballet. They include Interplay (first performed by the Joffrey in 2013), and Glass Pieces (making its Chicago debut during the Company’s Modern Masters winter program, February 7-15).
The Joffrey Ballet 2018-19 Season (from the press release):
October 17-28, 2018
Christopher Wheeldon’s stunning re-telling of this classic tale returns for the first time since its Chicago Premiere with the Joffrey in 2014. A ballet in four acts, Wheeldon transports one of ballet’s most famous works to the studios of the Paris Opera during the 19th century, the same era Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake in Moscow and when a young impressionist named Edgar Degas was on the rise in Paris.
A ballet-within-a-ballet, Wheeldon’s modern vision combines the classical elements of Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa’s original choreography with a touch of fantasy, as lavish sets and breathtaking movement inspired by Degas take hold in this timeless love story danced to Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing score. Throughout the production, Wheeldon plays with themes of illusion and transformation, juxtaposing both time, setting and characters to reveal a new way to see this classic fairytale ballet. Learn more about Christopher Wheeldon here.
Swan Lake is presented in 10 performances, October 17-28, 2018.
December 1-30, 2018
The Joffrey Ballet will once again present its reimagined holiday classic The Nutcracker by Christopher Wheeldon. Set during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, Wheeldon’s turn-of-the-century tale opens as young Marie and her mother, a sculptress creating the Fair’s iconic Statue of the Republic, host a festive Christmas Eve celebration. After a surprise visit from the creator of the Chicago Columbian Exposition, the mysterious Grand Impresario, Marie embarks on a whirlwind of adventure and romance with the Nutcracker Prince through a dreamlike World’s Fair.
A ballet in two acts set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, The Nutcracker features an award-winning creative team, including Tony Award®-nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch, Caldecott Medal Award-winning author Brian Selznick, Obie and Drama Desk award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, Tony Award®-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz and Tony Award®-winning projection designer Ben Pearcy.
The Nutcracker is presented in 29 performances, December 1-30, 2018.
February 13-24, 2019
Created by visionary choreographer Yuri Possokhov, this world premiere collaboration between The Joffrey Ballet and The Australian Ballet brings Leo Tolstoy’s epic 19th century story of forbidden love, passion and self-destruction to life on the stage.
A ballet in two acts, Possokhov’s Anna Karenina centers on the tragic tale of a married aristocrat and her ongoing love triangle in Imperial Russia, a story that explores the complex politics of family, religion, morality and gender. Possokhov is joined by an all-star creative team known for theatrical excellence. Among them: award winning Russian composer Ilya Demutsky (2016 Golden Mask Award recipient, Russia’s most prestigious theater honor); Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award®-nominated set designer Tom Pye (Gloriana, Fiddler on the Roof) and renowned lighting designer David Finn (Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence).
Known for his visceral and expressive style, Possokhov has created groundbreaking new works around the globe. A frequent guest artist with The Joffrey Ballet, Possokhov has received numerous critical acclaim for transforming iconic literature into inventive, emotionally driven story ballets, including the world premiere of Don Quixote with the Joffrey. Learn more about Yuri Possokhov here.
The world premiere of Anna Karenina will be presented first in Chicago in 10 performances with The Joffrey Ballet, February 13-24, 2019, and then in Melbourne with The Australian Ballet in May 2020.
Across the Pond
April 24-May 5, 2019
The Joffrey’s spring engagement, a mixed repertory program entitled Across the Pond, features the United Kingdom’s most influential artists, including a world premiere by London-based choreographer Andrea Walker, the Chicago Premiere of Kairos by Wayne McGregor and the Joffrey Premiere of Symphonic Variations by the iconic Sir Frederick Ashton.
After his successful Company debut with Infra in 2015, internationally celebrated choreographer Wayne McGregor returns to the Joffrey with the Chicago premiere of Kairos. Referring to an ancient Greek word denoting “weather” or the most opportune time to act, Kairos originally premiered in 2014 as part of STEPS, Switzerland’s largest national contemporary dance festival hosted by the Ballett Zürich. A visual feast set to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, reimagined by experimental composer Max Richter, this lyrical work combines McGregor’s signature physicality with the sleek designs of award-winning London-based artist Idris Khan. Learn more about Wayne McGregor here.
Considered one of Sir Frederick Ashton’s finest works and one of his first after returning from his posting during World War II, Symphonic Variations evokes the mystical splendor of the seasons, set to a score by 18th century composer César Franck. Originally created in 1946 for Sadler’s Wells, this ethereal work for six dancers fluctuates between quartets, duets, sextets, and solos, hinting at concepts of mysticism and spirituality that Ashton studied during the War. Learn more about Sir Frederick Ashton here.
Andrea Walker, Founder and Artistic Director of London’s 201 Dance Company, brings his striking sensibility state-side with a new work created exclusively for The Joffrey Ballet. Walker, a star on the rise known for his work with international sensations Coldplay and Lady Gaga, melds an exciting blend of hip- hop and dance theatre with a penchant for topical social issues. Walker’s world premiere marks his first collaboration with The Joffrey Ballet. Learn more about Andrea Walker here.
Across the Pond is presented in 10 performances only, April 24-May 5, 2019
The Joffrey in Performance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra
May 30-June 1, 2019
A special appearance in 2019, The Joffrey Ballet makes its Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) debut in performances that feature a world premiere work (choreographer to be announced at a later date) set to the music of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. This program also features Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Commedia, set to the music of Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella.
Note: The Joffrey’s collaboration with CSO is not part of the Joffrey season and tickets are not available through The Joffrey Ballet. Performances take place at Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.). More information can be found at CSO.org.