Jiří Kylián repetiteur Roslyn Anderson, former dancer and rehearsal director at Nederlands Dans Theater, rehearses Petite Mort with Hubbard Street Dancers Andrew Murdock, foreground, and Jason Hortin. Photo by Quinn B Wharton.
This weekend my favorite contemporary company takes on the Czech master choreographer Jiří Kylián. In their first-ever program dedicated to one artist’s work, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents four of Kylián’s works in their Spring Series at the Harris Theater. Two of the works – 27″52′ and Petite Mort – will be familiar to local audiences and two are Hubbard Street premieres.
Répétiteur Roslyn Anderson, former dancer and rehearsal director at Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), is no stranger to Chicago. She’s been coming here to set Kylián’s work on Hubbard St. – his work has been in their rep since 1998 – and The Joffrey Ballet for many years. In all, she sets about 16 of his works around the world and has worked with him, in one capacity or another, since the mid 70’s. “I told him I was interested to rehearse,” Anderson said from Hubbard Street’s West Loop studios. “I knew that from a young age that I wanted to rehearse.” Her first staging was Forgotten Land for San Francisco Ballet in the mid 80’s.
Joining Anderson to recreate these contemporary masterpieces are fellow “Kylián authorities” Urtzi Aranburu (staging), Dick Schuttel (sound design and effects), Joost Biegelaar (lighting) and Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton, a former director of NDT. Stopping by the studios to catch Edgerton rehearsing the company’s men in Sarabande proved enlightening. As the artistic head of the company, you know he’s the brain behind the rep, but you don’t normally see him in action in the studio. He danced two roles in the work and gave insights to the dancers from a performer’s perspective.
Sarabande, a piece for 6 men, is about “exploring all aspects of masculinity”, said dancer Jesse Bechard. Grunting, shouting and crawling take a beautiful, human edge when set to Bach music. The all-female piece, Falling Angels, a throbbing, tight ensemble piece performed to live music by Third Coast Percussion, immediately follows providing the perfect compliment. The beautiful Petite Mort, set to Mozart, and the abstract, improv-driven 27’52” round out the program although the works are presented chronologically backwards, a choreographic timeline in retrograde. “His work is so unique,” said Anderson. “The structure of this program, starting with the more recent and going backwards in time is just such a beautiful arc that people are going to see.”
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents their Spring Series, an All-Kylián program, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Thursday, March 13 through Sunday, March16. Tickets are $25-$99; call 312.850.9744 or visit hubbardstreetdance.com/spring.
Dancer/choreographer Jeremy McQueen. Photo by Eduardo Patino.
If you haven’t heard of Jeremy McQueen; you will. The New York-based dancer/choreographer has had quite a year – and it’s only June! McQueen was one of three choreographers to win Joffrey Ballet‘s Choreographers of Color Award (2013), culminating in the world premiere of his Black Iris at the Harris Theater this past March. Last week he wrapped up teaching a workshop for Motion 41 Dance in Omaha, Nebraska, while last Friday, his new work Au bord de l’eau (At the water’s edge) premiered at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Later this summer, he’ll present a new commissioned work at the Fire Island Dance Festival along with nine other choreographers including Lar Lubovitch and Christopher Wheeldon. In August, he competes as a finalist (for the second year in a row) for Capezio’s Award for Choreographic Excellence (ACE).
McQueen grew up in San Diego, California and began studying music (violin, flute, piano) at an early age and by eight was active in children’s theater. It wasn’t until he was picked on and bullied in 6th grade P.E. class that he opted to take dance as an alternative. While attending a performing arts high school for music, his love of dance really took hold. He then attended the Ailey School/Fordham University, graduating in 2008 with a B.F.A. in Dance. “I just kind of threw myself into a professional career auditioning for whatever,” said McQueen. “I always talk about being well-rounded, so I do see myself as a dancer, but I also do music and theater. I kept my skills up in those areas, so that when I graduated I might have a better shot with different opportunities. I didn’t know what door would open first.” His musical theater background served him well. He was cast in Contact in a Boston-area theater, did two years of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as well as the national tours of The Color Purple and Wicked. “I always tell people I know what it means to persevere and have patience and faith,” he said. “Wicked was always a show I wanted to be in. I auditioned about nine times over the course of four years before I got the job, but here I was at 23 and I was in the show.”
Leaving the cast without another job lined up was a leap of faith for McQueen, but he was ready to pursue other dreams and goals. Earlier, in 2008, while frustrated with the “audition grind” and missing concert dance, he had gathered a group of friends to “play” in the studio in between projects to see what he could do creating choreography. That turned into a project-based company affectionately called “Team McQueen” and proved to be a blessing after he left the touring circuit. This Friday, Team McQueen will dance (again, for the second year in a row) on the outdoor Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow. “Choreography was a creative outlet I wanted to explore. I knew that was a long-term goal of mine,” he said. “I really didn’t have a lot of expectations when I started. I wanted to see what I could say with it, not necessarily what I could do or get. I love seeing my vision come to life on stage. It’s been the greatest experience of my life to see my own voice develop through other people.”
For Jacob’s Pillow, McQueen and Team will be presenting three works. Black Iris, the classic, contemporary ballet piece (en pointe) McQueen created on the Joffrey Academy dancers earlier this year, was inspired by artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Black Iris III and represents the strong black women in his life including his mother, godmother and aunt. Dancer Nardia Boodoo, who originated the role in Chicago, will again be the lead. Also dancing in the work, is former Joffrey dancer Brian Gephart, who danced for two seasons with the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada and recently moved to New York City. Gephart and McQueen met in 2006 while attending the San Francisco Ballet summer program and reconnected in April. “It’s such a treat to get to work with someone with that uniquely Broadway-grounded eye for detail and precision and yet have the movement quality from Ailey in the same person,” Gephart said (via email). Gephart is also the lead in another work on the program, an excerpt from a full-length work titled What Lies Within. This piece for seven male dancers has six of them representing the lead dancer’s insecurities. “It’s been a fabulous creation process of letting me explore movement based on my ballet foundation, where I feel so at home, but ultimately working to strip it down to a more pedestrian, relatable place,” he said. “It’s one of those special opportunities where the role pushes you as an artist to something beyond just technique and turns. Making it be ‘human’ and not a ‘dancer’ has been delightfully a stretch for me.”
The final work on the program – the aforementioned Au bord de l’eau – was created in residency with the Ailey School and Stephen’s College and pays tribute to women fighting breast cancer. McQueen has a close friend that is going through this struggle and her beauty and strength inspired him. Discolored nails, losing your hair and even your breast(s) are obvious and notable side effects. “When you go through chemotherapy, you’re in a big room with other people that are in your same situation. There’s a sense of community and mutual support,” he said. “This pays tribute to the courage that women go through in their quest to maintain their femininity during breast cancer.” The all-female piece has the dancers clad in long, pink chiffon skirts, nude bras and 29″ wigs.
The 27-year-old choreographer tends to tackle social issues that have effected his life. And with all his recent success, it doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping any time soon. “People constantly ask me if this is where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. I always tell them no,” said McQueen. “I’ve completely exceeded my expectations of anything I thought I could do. This year has been a blessing. To really see these opportunities unfold has been incredible. I feel so blessed. I’m really trying to live in the moment and enjoy it.”
The Jacob’s Pillow performance will take place Friday, June 28 at 6 pm on the Henry J. Leir Stage and Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA. Tickets are free.
Hubbard Street dancer Quinn B Wharton. Photo by Cheryl Mann.
Her: What’s the B. stand for?
Him: It’s a good question, isn’t it? I’ll never tell.
Her: Ooh, it’s top secret!
Him: It’s more interesting that way, right? There’s no period.
Her: Is that an artistic statement?
Him: It’s like that on my birth certificate, Quinn B Wharton. There’s a reason.
Her: Do you want to tell me?
Him: Then you’d know and it would be no fun. Maybe I’ll tell you someday.
That’s how my conversation began with the tall, lean, talented dancer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Quinn B – no period – Wharton was bright, blithe and downright bewitching when we met over tea (for him, he was recovering from a cold) and decaf (for me, ’nuff said) two weeks ago. Who is this man with the mysterious initial and missing punctuation? I did my best to find out.
Wharton grew up in Seattle and began taking hip hop classes with a friend through an inner city outreach program. Pacific Northwest Ballet School‘s Dance Chance program took notice and offered him a scholarship. After a five-year “drought” in his training when his family moved to Hawaii, he relied on the wisdom of his ballet-teaching grandmothers to find him a teacher to get him back in shape. A summer program at San Francisco Ballet (SFB) led to three years at the North Carolina School of the Arts before he returned to San Fran to join the ballet company’s trainee program, or second company, while completing his degree via correspondence. Wharton danced with SFB, under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, for seven years before joining Hubbard Street in the summer of 2012.
In 2008, during SFB’s 75th Anniversary season, Wharton sustained a lower back injury that kept him from dancing. He used his down time to develop an impressive talent in photography. After “working like hell” on his ballet come back, he started traveling and auditioning to see what else was out there in the dance world. Now, he joins fellow SFB alums Garrett Anderson and Pablo Piantino at Hubbard Street.
Wharton, 25, will be dancing the opening “TV Man” solo in Swedish choreographer Mats Ek’s Casi-Casa this weekend at the Harris Theater. Hubbard Street’s Winter Series will be the first time an American company has presented this work. Also on the program, Canadian choreographic phenom Aszure Barton’s Untouched, a dense and grand work make for the company in 2010, and a coupling of short works by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. One is a quartet for women, the other a trio for men.
Ek has been in and out of town working with the dancers for a while, but is aided by his wife/muse Ana Laguna, who notably danced a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Harris Theater in 2009, and repetiteur Mariko Aoyama, who is well-known for her work with Pina Bausch. A rehearsal earlier this fall for the “TV Man” solo had Laguna riffing on the finer points of chair slumping and nose picking. Here is a peak into the rehearsal process filmed by HMS Media:
Wharton (also a gifted videographer) started his Hubbard Street career with a bang. Only two weeks in, he found himself learning Twyla Tharp’s SCARLATTI to replace an injured dancer the next night at the Chicago Dancing Festival. Welcome to Chicago! Here’s a bit of our chat on working with Ek.
I’ve read a lot of articles and interviews in the past few years and most of the dancers say they want to work with Ek. Is he someone you aspired to work with?
He wasn’t, actually…until now.
Since he wasn’t on your list, what makes it…
Amazing? It’s watching someone that’s been so thoroughly in his craft for so long, so specifically. It’s very different from how most dance is portrayed. It’s almost like from a theater background. You can tell from what he makes for film. I don’t know what it’s like when he creates, but it seems like he comes into the room with these characters and bases dances on them as opposed to creating movement and infusing it with character, which is what most people do, if at all. He’s a little soft-spoken. He’s tall. He wants really big movement. He’s not irrational with what he expects, but he does demand a lot. He’s respectful, which is nice. When he came back this past week, we were working on the TV solo. Watching it is really weird, but hearing him talk about it, makes complete sense. At first it seemed really obscure. The TV Man is in love with this game show hostess on tv and you write her a bunch of letters and she doesn’t respond to you. You love her, but you hate her and this couch is always here for you and it’s your friend you love it. There are people out there like that and it allowed me to relate to what I was doing.
What was it like working with Ana and Mariko?
I can see why Mariko was here first. She’s super sweet. She’s very detail-focused. She gave us a lot of information very quickly. She’s fast and she pushes. She’s quirky and she’s worked in very contemporary dance for years with Pina Bausch. They both just give us a base, because they know Mats will come in later. Ana is a sweetheart, beyond sweet. Obviously she knows Mats work inside and out.
In rehearsals you were playing with a black bowler hat. What’s with the hat?
What IS with the hat? I like hats. I am the hat man, as well. I die at the end of my solo. I turn the tv off and I die, because that is my world. “Vacuum Lady” comes on and has a hat. I go for it and she takes it away. I put it on and she sends me somewhere. It’s very conceptual. Either it’s another world or I’m a spirit. I provide transition and “slight leadership”. Every time I come in to change a scene, I’m wearing the hat…except for the finale.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents its Winter Series at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, on Thurs., Dec. 6 at 730 pm, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-8 at 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 pm. Tickets are $25-$99. Call 312.850.9744 or visit hubbardstreetdance.com.
The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF), a week-long series of free dance events, came to a close Saturday night on the Pritzker Pavilion stage in Millennium Park. A large crowd turned out on a beautiful night to witness dance from some of the top companies in the country as well as artistry from fellow Chicagoans. Festival co-founders Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke addressed the audience and introduced a casually dressed Mayor Rahm Emanuel before the show began. “Hey Chicago! Hey dance lovers!” The performance opened and closed with local talent: the After School Matters Hip Hop Culture Dance Ensemble with Nicholas Leicther’s Touch of Soul in honor of Maggie Daley and Bolero Chicago with Larry Keigwin’s homage to our sweet home city.
Nestled in between the two large local numbers was a mini tasting of the best of the best in the current dance scene. Houston Ballet performed Mark Morris’ Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes with live piano accompaniment from Katherine Burkwall-Ciscon. Dressed in comfy looking white blowsy tops and short leggings (can I get this in black?), the dancers skipped and skimmed across the stage in a light-footed romp that showcased Morris’ deftly musical choreography. Two gala-esque performances by major ballet companies showed the range of classical ballet. New York City Ballet stars Ana Sophia Scheller and Gonzalo Garcia dazzled in the show-stopping pas de deux from Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote (1869). An early one-handed lift seemed to last forever and Scheller’s fouette run in the coda, featuring a double pirouette every second turn for the first 16 counts and one every third turn for the second half, had me jumping out of my seat. Girl can turn. Later, Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo from San Francisco Ballet danced Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux from Continuum (2002). The couple brilliantly danced the Sleeping Beauty pas earlier in the week and proved they are just as stunning doing more contemporary work.
Two powerhouse companies represented the same kind of choreographic range in the modern/contemporary realm. Martha Graham Dance Company performed an excerpt form Chronicle (1936), which they performed earlier in the week in its entirety. Steps in the Street physically showed just how powerful women can be. Local favorite Hubbard Street Dance Chicago danced an excerpt of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Tabula Rasa (1986), giving an equally powerful performance in a more relaxed, freer style.
The Pritzker Pavilion is a wonderful outdoor venue that normally houses musical acts including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With that said, the seating isn’t ideally designed for viewing dance. The seats are directly behind one another and on a very shallow raking. My apologies to the woman seated behind me for “driving her crazy” by moving my head from side to side to see. Unless you’d like a detailed account of the woman’s hair cut and color in front of me, it was a necessary evil.
Congratulations to everyone that worked, volunteered or performed at CDF 12. It was a wonderful week full of terrific dance that won’t soon be forgotten. All free. We are lucky Chicago.
Brook’s piece began with dancers carrying one another across the stage across their backs in a 45-degree plank. The patterns were a meditation in strength and balance, but the most intriguing moments happened with props. Dancers waving flat boards created wind gusts that animated pieces of tulle. The effect was like the movie American Beauty, where the paper bag danced in the wind. Here, the fabric was doing the dancing, while the dancers did the grunt work. It was beautiful. The other New York contingent presented an all-female work about reactions to war. Chronicle (1936) highlights the strength of women with Graham’s signature contractions, pitches, cupped hands and severe drama. The Red Shroud solo performed by Blakeley White-McGuire was particularly intense. Ladies – fierceness be thy name.
A last-minute Midwest addition to the program was Alexander Ekman’s Two Becomes Three performed by two dancers from Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC). Maeghan McHale and Martin Ortiz Tapia danced this quirky duet on Monday night at the Harris Theater. They were delightful then and even better last night. The audience loved them.
Although only one of the three ballet companies performed a work by George Balanchine, they all have ties to the famous Russian choreographer. The artistic directors of Ballet Arizona (Ib Andersen), SFB (Helgi Tomasson) and PNB (Peter Boal) all danced for the company Balanchine founded, the New York City Ballet (NYCB). All three have Balanchine works in their rep and employ dancers that fit in the quintessential Balanchine ballerina mold (read: short waists, long legs, gorgeous feet). His trademark fast footwork and neo-classical style were on full display in the opening number by Ballet Arizona. Rubies, an excerpt from his three-part ballet Jewels (1967) was pertly performed by the petite cast – except for soloist Kenna Draxton, who towered above the rest. The tableau of 15 dancers in a semi circle, dressed in ruby red costumes, hands joined above their heads as the curtain opened was stunning. What followed was a whirlwind of delight. Shout out to Jillian Barrel and Nayon Iovino, quite the dynamic duo.
PNB dancers Lesley Rausch and Seth Orza beautifully performed Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun (1953), which is set in an abstract dance studio with the audience serves as the mirror. The haunting score by Claude Debussy lends a melancholic tone to the duet where the dancers seem more interested in their reflections than each other. While this pas was more casual in tone and in dress (leotard and tights with hair down for her, tights and bare-chested for him), the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux, performed by SFB’s Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo, was full-out formal. Normally danced at the end of the nearly three-hour ballet, this duet represents the marriage of the princess to her prince. The sparkling tiara, tutu and tunic couldn’t out-dazzle this couple. They were spectacular.
There was one slip up – literally – in last night’s show that I must mention, because I think it was the turning point -wow, no more puns I promise – of the show. During the Beauty pas, Sylve slipped and fell. Not just a “whoops!”, but a crash-and-burn on her…um, tutu. The shock of it had made the audience gasp loudly, but Sylve got right up and finished with the grace and talent of the true professional she is. I’m (almost) glad this happened for three reasons. 1. Shit happens – when it does, you get back up and continue on. 2. It proves she’s human. 3. It not only shows the audience, which more than likely had some ballet newcomers in it, that the stage was slick, but if a ballerina of this caliber can fall just walking to the upstage corner of the stage, it shows just how difficult it is be to dance a difficult pas in pointe shoes. The slip upped the respect of the audience tenfold, because she made the rest of it look utterly effortless.
Martha Graham Dance Co dancer Xiaochuan Xie on the Pritzker stage.
The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF) hits Chicago stages for a week of free dance performances again this August. Now in its sixth year, CDF – the brainchild of Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke – is expanding (again) to six days of events with new programs and a couple of commissioned world premieres to boot! RB will be part of CDF’s blogger initiative for the second year, bringing you sneak peeks, dancer/choreographer interviews, event coverage, reviews and wrap ups. I’ll also be live-Tweeting pre- and post-event coverage for the Fest complete with photos, behind-the-scenes happenings and audience quotes.
A partnership with Chicago SummerDance, the city’s outdoor dancing series, for Dancing Under the Stars and prolific local dance writer Zac Whittenburg leads a lecture demonstration, Chicago Now, with local companies at the MCA Stage. Programming for both of these event to be announced at a later date. A day of Dancing Movies also takes place at the MCA with films including PINA, All Is Not Lost, Two Seconds After the Laughter and Fanfare for Marching Band curated by local artist Sarah Best. The fest always ends with a Celebration of Dance at the outdoor Pritzker Pavilion stage in Millennium Park showcasing a number of artists that have performed throughout the week.
Tickets for all of the events are free, however, you do need to reserve seating for the indoor theaters in advance. These will “sell out” very fast! More information on tickets will be available the week of July 16th.
Dancers David Schultz & Alice Klock in "I Can See Myself in Your Pupil". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
For two of the three new dancers added to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago‘s (HSDC) roster this season, it was a new road traveled. Alice Klock and David Schultz – 23 and 24 respectively – are the first two dancers to move up the HSDC chain from summer intensive students to members of HS2 to being promoted to the main company. All in two years.
Both dancers hail from Michigan, but the similarities in dance beginnings end there. Schultz stated dancing at five taking tap (he wanted to be Donald O’Connor), then began taking ballet classes with his older brother Nick. Once hooked, he took numerous summer workshops that eventually led to an apprenticeship (while still in high school) and then a full-time position with the Grand Rapids Ballet, where he danced for over four years. Klock didn’t start dancing until age 11 with ballet classes. She quickly took to the form and three years later attended a summer program at San Francisco Ballet, where she decided she wanted to be a professional dancer. She went to Interlochen Center for the Arts for high school and after two years at Dominican University, figured it was time to start her professional career.
Here’s where there stories come together. Both attended the HSDC summer intensive in 2009 and were asked to join the second company HS2. Landing here happen almost by accident, but now they couldn’t be happier. “I’d known a little bit about the company, but once I got here, I realized how much I really loved the whole philosophy and the rep,” says Klock. Schultz agrees. “Just learning the rep I thought ‘this is it’! This is what I want to do.” Their success ties into the larger HSDC mission of nurturing the next generation of artists. “David and Alice are great examples to a bigger mission of mine, which is to mentor young dancers and prepare them for a profession in dance rather or not they continue with Hubbard Street or not,” says Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton. “They’ve matured so quickly in all ways, both in their dancing and also in their understanding of how to approach their work creatively and practically. I feel we have been able to tap into their talents and start to challenge them toward their potential.” That potential will be challenged this season with having to learn the previous repertoire that includes masters like Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato and Jirí Kylián, as well as new company works by a range of choreographers from Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo to the legendary Twyla Tharp (her world premiere hits the stage this Thursday, Oct 13th).
Alice Klock & David Schultz in "Harold and the Purple Crayon". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
No one is more proud of these two dancers than HS2 Director Taryn Kaschock Russell, “I’m so proud of them!” After thriving under her guidance in the second company, Klock attributes much of their success to her. “Taryn is amazing,” she says before class last Tuesday morning. “She’s such a caring and passionate leader. Taryn really looks at each dancer in the second company and finds what exactly it is that will take them to the next step. Because of that, we progressed really quickly.” With this close bond, Kaschock Russell was the perfect person to ask what it is about these two that impressed her. On Schultz: “He is a never-ending ball of energy and curiosity. He is willing, always. He has grown exponentially over the course of two years and added texture and versatility to his already dynamic stage presence. He soaked up every bit of information that he could get his hands on from me and all of the choreographers and colleagues he worked with. Don’t get me wrong, he’s also a handful – in a wonderful way. You have to keep your eye on that one.” On Klock: “Alice has an intelligence that often stops me in my tracks. When I first began working with her, I was taken by her physical beauty and long lines. When she attended the summer program, she was very timid and a bit like a young fawn on those beautiful legs of hers. During her two years with HS2, she went from that understated shy presence, unsure of her place in the room, to eating up the stage with her every movement. She commands attention, her stance is strong and her gaze unyielding. ”
Come see Klock, Schultz, along with new HSDC company member Garrett Anderson this week (Oct 13 – 16) at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph)as Hubbard Street presents their Fall Series. On the program, a world premiere SCARLATTI by Twyla Tharp, Nacho Duato’s Archangelo and Walking Mad by Johan Inger. Tickets can be purchased by calling 312.850.9744, 312.334.7777 or by visiting the Harris Theater box office.
Joffrey dancers Victoria Jaiani & Miguel Angel Blanco. Photo by Sandro.
This Wednesday, October 12th, Joffrey Ballet premieres a new version of Don Quixote at the Auditorium Theatre. The two act re-envisioning of Cervantes classic literary tale brings humor, drama and love to life with bravura dancing and a dash of horseplay. Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov (former star of the Bolshoi Ballet and current resident choreographer at San Francisco Ballet), the ballet promises to continue the Russian classical traditions, while adding in his charismatic flair. Possokhov delighted Chicago audiences last spring with Joffrey’s premiere of his commissioned work Bells. His history with Don Q is long. “I was ten years old first time I dance in this ballet,” he says in halted English at an Artists Talk Series lecture hosted by Instituto Cervantes last week. The Bolshoi is the only company to keep Don Q “alive” in it’s rep with every generation passing it on to the next. “It’s a gift for him to pass onto this generations of Joffrey dancers,” says Artistic Director Ashley Wheater of Possokhov’s vast base of knowledge with this ballet. “I think the company will grow into it.”
How do you take a classic that’s over 140 years old and make it fresh? “I had to make some twist, something that belongs to this city, this company,” says Possokhov. That twist includes a more dancing for Don Quixote, which is traditionally more a character role, projections and video by Wendall Harrington integrated to help particularly in the dream sequences, plus a life-size horse puppet created by Von Orthal Puppets operated by male dancers in the company (insert horse’s ass joke here). Along with the lively score by Ludwig Minkus (played live by the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Joffrey-ized Don Q will surely keep you on the edge of your seat. Shortly before Possokhov was set to come to Chicago to set the ballet, the Golden Gate Park Windmills, which had been under restorative construction for years, began to spin. “Is good sign.”
Joffrey Ballet presents Don Quixote, Oct 12th – 23rd
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E Congress
Tickets: 800.982.2787 or 312.386.8905
The Joffrey Academy of Dance, the Official School of the Joffrey Ballet, is offering a Don Quixote-themed master class next Monday, October 17th at 5:30 pm. Taught by dancer Ericka Mac, the class gives a brief history of the story and choreography, as well as giving a fun barre warm up and teaching the steps of Kitri’s (the female lead) solo. The class is for students of all levels and ages.
Joffrey Tower, 10 E Randolph, $15, or $10 with a valid college ID.
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.784.4600