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SunSpots: "Winter Fire" - Joffrey Ballet

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!


"Winter Fire" - Joffrey Ballet


I will start by saying that I am no dance critic - I can really only say "WOW . . . " when seeing the strength, athleticism and grace of the dancers.  However, I will do my best to share what I saw, heard and felt!

Winter Fire is comprised of the works of three world-renowned choreographers in a mixed repertory program featuring two premieres and an audience favorite.  I've come to expect traditional, classical ballet from Joffrey, but this program was definitely contemporary.  The dancers' costumes throughout the performance were minimalist - nothing flashy or elaborate.  Thhe stage was less than minimalist - it was bare, with lighting and media projection as the only effects.  However, no theatrics were needed to enhance this passionate performance by Joffrey Ballet!

The program opened with In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, by William Forsythe (former Joffrey dancer).  This piece was created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1987 and has a sort of industrial feel.  There are elements of classical ballet, but in a twisted - "deconstructed" - way.  The music by Thom Williams adds to the industrial feel with a sound reminiscent of The Art of Noise.

[caption id="attachment_1016" align="alignright" width="128"] Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels[/caption]

After the Rain, was quite a contrast! The live music by Arvo Pärt imparted a peaceful, sumptuously sensual tone, particularly in Part II, a pas de deux performed by Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels.  Their performance was beautiful - full of grace, sensuality, tenderness, strength and flexibility!  Again, in contrast to In the Middle, Christopher Wheeldon's choreography is more of a classical style.  The dancers' lines were bold and clean and the lifts were intricate works of art.  This 2010 Joffrey Premiere, which received unanimous critical acclaim, concluded with a standing ovation!

[caption id="attachment_1024" align="alignleft" width="154"]Infra - Christine Rocas & Lucas Segovia Christine Rocas & Lucas Segovia[/caption]

Winter Fire closed with Infra, a mix of the deconstructed  style of In the Middle and classical ballet.  Infra evoked feelings of disconnectedness and indifference.  A screen across the back wall displayed black and white pedestrian animations - people passing each other with no interaction.  (I'm surprised they didn't have headphones on or handheld devices . . . )  The pedestrians are on a subway platform with ebbs and flows of commuters and music punctuated with the sounds of a busy urban environment.  Like the pedestrians, the dancers generally had no interaction.  It felt as though they moved separately, even as they crowded the stage and dispersed - much like the animatronic display.  There were a few brief encounters during these breathtaking performances, but they ended tragically, and with a return to a disconnected existence.  Created following the 2005 London subway bombings, the emotional aftermath is prevalent throughout this work.  This is the US Premiere of Wayne McGregor's sumptuous work, premiered by the Royal Ballet of London in 2008.

Winter Fire is comprised of contrasting styles, music and emotions, but delivers consistently compelling, passionate performances.  The production continues through February 26th at the Auditorium Theatre.

Photos by Herbert Migdoll

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