Joffrey’s 17/18 Season Emphasizes “Transformative Storytelling” and Joyful Celebrations

Joffrey’s 17/18 Season Emphasizes “Transformative Storytelling” and Joyful Celebrations

Pictured: Alexander Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Royal Swedish Opera House. Photo by Hans Nilsson (courtesy of The Joffrey Ballet).

Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, has announced the 2017-18 season which includes a world premiere by Joffrey Ballet Master Nicolas Blanc, the North American Premiere of MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by choreographer Alexander Ekman plus Chicago premieres by George Balanchine, Lola de Ávila and Jerome Robbins.

In addition to the five premieres slated for the 62nd season, The Joffrey Ballet brings back Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon’s THE NUTCRACKER, and for the first time, The Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago will collaborate on a world premiere production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s classic opera, ORPHÉE et EURYDICE. Directed and choreographed by Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier.

“During my time as Artistic Director, we’ve worked tirelessly to redefine ballet at the highest level,” said Wheater. “This season, we elevate this commitment with dynamic performances that celebrate joy in a time when transformative storytelling has never been more needed. We present sweeping passion in modern renditions of GISELLE and MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM; we see hope and wonder through the eyes of Chicago immigrants with the return of Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined NUTCRACKER; and finally, we feel inspiration with works by modern trailblazers and legendary voices including Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Alexander Ekman, and Myles Thatcher.”

“Ashley Wheater’s commitment to world-class artistry and transformative experiences has ignited hope and wonder in Chicago audiences, and this season is no exception,” added Executive Director Greg Cameron. We look forward to sharing these remarkable and moving ballet experiences with Chicago audiences in the year to come.”

All performances take place in the Joffrey’s home venue, the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. All programs throughout the season feature live music performed by the Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

2017-18 Season (from the press release):

October 2017

The Joffrey Ballet launches its 2017-18 season with the Chicago Premiere of Lola de Ávila’s visionary adaption of GISELLE. Former Associate Director of the San Francisco Ballet School, de Ávila’s take on this classic Romantic-era ballet is set to composer Adolphe Adam’s original score and tells the tale of young Giselle, who discovers her lover is betrothed to another and dies of grief, only to be enlisted by the vengeful Wilis, a ghostly army of maidens who haunt the forests, dancing to death any male mortal who crosses their path. When her beloved wanders into their grasp, Giselle makes the ultimate act of love to free him from his fate.

A ballet in two acts, GISELLE is presented in 10 performances only, October 18-29, 2017.

December 2017

After its wildly successful world premiere in December 2016, The Joffrey Ballet will once again present its newly reimagined holiday classic THE NUTCRACKER by Tony Award®-winning choreographer 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 Great Impresario, Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince through a dreamlike World’s Fair. A ballet in two acts set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, THE NUTCRACKER also features design by 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 32 performances, December 1-30, 2017.

February 2018

The Joffrey’s winter program, a mixed repertory program entitled MODERN MASTERS, features a world premiere by Joffrey Ballet Master Nicolas Blanc, the Chicago Premieres of Kammermusik No. 2 by George Balanchine and in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Glass Pieces by Jerome Robbins plus Body of Your Dreams by Myles Thatcher.

Kammermusik No.2, originally created for New York City Ballet in 1978 by world renowned contemporary ballet choreographer George Balanchine, broke the conventions of ballet with its exceptional use of complex structures, precision, energy and speed. Set to a score by neoclassical composer Paul Hindemith, hailed as one of the great German composers of the 20th century, this work for 12 dancers features an eight-man ensemble performing jagged lines and stylized gestures along with two couples, who present the counterpoint to the ensemble with duets set to the intricate passages for piano.

Body of Your Dreams, created by up-and-coming choreographer Myles Thatcher, is a tongue-in-cheek take on fitness which made its world premiere as part of the 2014–2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. A contemporary work for nine dancers, Body of Your Dreams features a series of movements expressing the highs and lows of body image woven together with inventive wit, set to a score by Dutch avant pop composer Jacob ter Veldhuis. A current dancer with San Francisco Ballet, Thatcher is known for melding contemporary sensibility with classical technique to resonate feeling and atmosphere. Thatcher made his Joffrey Ballet choreographic debut with the World Premiere of Passengers in September 2015.

Nicolas Blanc, current Ballet Master and Principal Coach for The Joffrey Ballet, will create a new work (untitled) for the company which will take audiences through five mesmerizing worlds set to an orchestral and electronic soundscape by Mason Bates, composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Former Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet, Blanc made his choreographic debut with the Joffrey in April 2015 with the U.S. Premiere of Evenfall. Most recently, Blanc was selected to participate in the 2015 National Choreographers Initiative as well as the New York City Ballet’s New York Choreographic Institute where he created Mothership, which premiered in New York City Ballet’s 2016 gala.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Jerome Robbins’ birth, the Joffrey will present the Chicago Premiere of Glass Pieces, a signature Robbins’ ballet set to three works by American minimalist composer Philip Glass. Originally premiering with New York City Ballet in 1983, Glass Pieces is a tour de force of movement and music for 42 dancers featuring urban, postmodern choreography, recurrent rhythms, shifting patterns and an energized pace to reflect the pulse of metropolitan America in the ‘80s. One of the great American choreographers of the 20th century, Robbins prolific career has made a profound contribution to the ballet world in addition to renown commercial credits as a director and choreographer for theater, movies and television including On the Town, West Side Story, The King and I, Gypsy, Peter Pan, and Fiddler on the Roof. Even after his death in 1998, his superb body of work continues to be celebrated and performed by companies worldwide. In its 62-year history, The Joffrey Ballet has presented numerous works by Jerome Robbins, including The Concert, Interplay, Moves and N.Y. Export: Op. Jazz.

MODERN MASTERS is presented in 10 performances only, February 7–18, 2018.

April/May 2018

Celebrated around the globe for his originality and humor, Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman brings his unique vision to the Joffrey with the North American Premiere of his MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, which made its world premiere with The Royal Swedish Ballet in 2015. A full-length ballet vastly different from Shakespeare’s tale, Ekman’s take on A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM presents a festive Scandinavian Midsummer celebration, as the border between the world of mortals and the kingdom of the supernatural becomes thinner, turning the celebration into a dreamlike fantasy. Ekman has collaborated with companies worldwide to create award-winning works that both entertain and challenge the observer, including the Chicago Premieres of Ekman’s Tulle in 2015 along with his wild and rhythmic Episode 31 which premiered on the Joffrey during the 2013 Chicago Dancing Festival. Ekman will also present the world premiere of a new work (untitled) during The Joffrey Ballet’s spring program Global Visionaries in April 2017.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is presented in 10 performances only, April 25-May 6, 2018.

Joffrey Gala Performance — April 20, 2018
For the third year in a row, The Joffrey Ballet will open its special, one-hour gala performance exclusively to Joffrey subscribers and gala donors.

Lyric Collaboration — September 23 – October 15, 2017
This season, The Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago will collaborate on a world premiere production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s classic opera ORPHÉE et EURYDICE. Based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, ORPHÉE et EURYDICE features a modern-day Orpheus, a poet whose every word communicates an overwhelming love for his late wife, Eurydice. After refusing to accept her death, he courageously journeys to the Underworld to bring her back to life but first must face Love’s challenge. Lyric Opera will present ORPHÉE in the Paris version, containing thrilling ballet sequences that will come to life under the direction and choreography of internationally acclaimed Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier. Most recently, Neumeier worked with the Joffrey, upon whom he set the North American premiere of his full-length story ballet Sylvia in October 2015.

ORPHÉE et EURYDICE will be presented in seven performances at Lyric’s Civic Opera House, September 23 – October 15.

For more information visit joffrey.org.

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