WBEZ | The Joffrey Ballet http://www.wbez.org/tags/joffrey-ballet Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Joffrey's Choreographers of Color http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/joffreys-choreographers-color-105964 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joffrey%20Ballet%20Choreographers%20of%20Color_Photo%20by%20Herbert%20Migdoll.jpg" title="(Herbert Migdoll)" /></p><p>Contemporary dance is an underrated art form, even in Chicago, where the breadth of companies and performers is as diverse as the population it seeks to entertain. For many people, dance performances are inaccessible because of stereotypes regarding social class and age. Unlike theater or film or art, the most visually recognizable and misunderstood genre of dance is ballet. This identity, born out of the precision of the movements and its long history as an evening activity of the upper classes, overshadows the multitude of dancers and choreographers creating unique, experimental, and important new works.<br /><br />One such company that seeks to showcase emerging performers and choreographers is the Joffrey Ballet. On Sunday, March 10, the Joffrey will premiere their &quot;Choreographers of Color&quot; program featuring performers from a new generation of dancers in the Joffrey Training Academy. The show begins at 4 p.m. and <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2012-2013-season/joffrey-ballet">tickets may be purchased online</a>. In its third year, the Joffrey&rsquo;s Choreographers of Color Award recognizes young minority choreographers in order to provide a unique perspective to the world of dance. Featuring four world premieres, this annual performance is both a welcome introduction to the world of dance as well as an important moment for the choreographers and the Joffrey.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joffrey%20Ballet%20Choreographers%20of%20Color%202_Photo%20by%20Herbert%20Migdoll.jpg" style="float: left; height: 350px;" title="(Herbert Migdoll)" />High above the constant frenzy of the corner of State and Lake, Chicago native William McClellan spoke briefly about the influences in his work, <em>Rise/Rebuild to the Occasion</em>. Bill T. Jones, dancer, choreographer, and artistic director once said, &ldquo;When the gauntlet falls, how do we rise to the occasion?&rdquo; This quote became a driving basis for McClellan&rsquo;s work, a reflection of the numerous recent social, cultural, and environmental tragedies such as the Japanese tsunami, the earthquake of Haiti, and the recent shootings in Chicago. McClellan, a South Side native, asks, &ldquo;How do we build ourselves back up?&rdquo;<br /><br />As evident from the earlier preview, moving on requires a total immersion of the body. <em>Rise/Rebuild to the Occasion</em> is a deeply athletic and strong work featuring forceful and powerful movements from its dancers. Featuring elements of ballet, modern dance, hip-hop, and what (at times) looks like footwork, the piece is almost aggressive in its visuals. It is a way to explore and explain the severity of what has happened and to counter what is ultimately needed to move forward. McClellan understands something fundamental to the human experience. One imagines that progress comes easy, but the everyday is not as easy to maneuver as one would like. Moving on takes the whole body; it takes everything you&rsquo;ve got and then some.<br /><br />In many ways, the work ties into <em>Black Iris</em>, another chosen choreographic work by Jeremy McQueen. Featuring a moving lead female performance by Nardia Boodoo, McQueen&rsquo;s work is a tribute and testament to Black womanhood. Like McClellan&rsquo;s work, McQueen asks how one navigates the world around them. It is about change and our reactions to the changes and world we can not control. McQueen&rsquo;s work is in dedication to the women he grew up who &ldquo;exemplify the perseverance, determination, confidence, and faith that is uniquely Black and woman.&rdquo;</p><p>It is a work about what it means to be a modern Black woman, the push and pull of the beauty and the groundedness, and the pursuit of a fulfilling existence against adversity and struggle.</p><p><br />In the debate about the need for more diversity in varying artistic fields, it is encouraging to see the Joffrey both attempting to address this issue and doing so on a regular basis. For a field that is often maligned for its inability to connect with younger or different audiences, the ongoing presence of the Choreographers of Color Award is a refreshing treat for Chicago audiences.</p><p>One might wonder why it&#39;s only a one-off performance once a year and why such a diverse line-up is relegated to the its own show rather than incorporated into the regular line up from the company or the Academy. As a whole however, some effort is better than none at all. As long as other companies and artists refuse to acknowledge their homogeneity, we will continue to see the same degrees of storytelling. It is a cycle that needs to be broken.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/joffreys-choreographers-color-105964 Top 3 reasons I hate 'The Nutcracker' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/top-3-reasons-i-hate-nutcracker-94308 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/nutpage.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/nutpage.jpeg" style="width: 600px; height: 304px;" title=""></p><p>1) It’s pretty.</p><p>2) It’s boring.</p><p>3) It’s everywhere, crowding out more interesting dance programs.</p><p>Am I the only <em>Nutcracker</em> Scrooge in town? I'd love to hear from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and/or future so I can be transfigured and mend my mean-spirited ways.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/top-3-reasons-i-hate-nutcracker-94308 Union leaders respond to Joffrey lockout http://www.wbez.org/story/union-leaders-respond-joffrey-lockout-88764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-05/230548_10150182198861935_21202486934_7102557_1751437_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Union officials from the American Guild of Musical Artists say the Joffrey Ballet's threat of a lockout is a bluff. &nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/joffrey-ballet-planning-lock-out-dancers-88702">As WBEZ reported yesterday,</a> the Chicago-based ballet company sent a letter to its dancers last week telling them to clean out their lockers and turn in their keys by Thursday.</p><p>According to AGMA National Executive Director Alan S. Gordon, dancers are fighting against increasing the work week from 25 to 30 hours because there wouldn't be a corresponding pay increase.</p><p>"I think the idea of a lockout is just stupid," said Gordon. "First of all, it's illegal because the company and union haven't reached an impasse, you can't have a lockout before you reach an impasse. And part from being illegal, it's foolish because they aren't here, and you can't lockout people who aren't working."</p><p>Gordon also believes the Joffrey is trying to bolster its bargaining position by creating press to scare the dancers. Gordon says another union representative met with dancers today to talk about the negotiations.</p><p>A representative from the Joffrey said the company had not spoken with the union today. She said the Joffrey stood by its position to cancel the beginning of the Fall season if a resolution isn't met.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 21:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-leaders-respond-joffrey-lockout-88764 Daily Rehearsal: 'Boss' casts locally http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-05/daily-rehearsal-boss-casts-locally-88731 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-05/boss-banner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>1. <strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">A little belated, but Michelle Williams</span></span></strong> was <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/steppenwolfthtr">spotted at <em>Middletown </em>last week</a>. And yes, that's Michelle Williams of <em>Dawson's Creek</em> fame, not the other D.C., <em>Destiny's Child</em>.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-05/RobSwimming01.jpg" style="width: 286px; height: 400px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Get behind 'The Front Page' with this guy"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">2. TimeLine's <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/front_page/index.htm"><em>The Front Page</em></a> has been extended through July 17</span></span></strong>, and WBEZ's own Rob Wildeboer is involved. No, he won't be acting, but he's among several Chicago news reporters who will be present for a post-show discussion&nbsp;<em>Exclusive! Chicago’s Top Reporters on&nbsp;</em>The Front Page<em>: Same Story, Different Century </em>on July 10. Rob will be joined by&nbsp;Elizabeth Brackett (WTTW), Janan Hanna (Reuters, Chicago News Coop, Huffington Post), Paul Meincke (WLS-TV), and Lester Munson, all of whom have covered the Blagojevich trial.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. There were live performances of the Declaration of Independence</strong></span></span> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-29/daily-rehearsal-start-planning-your-4th-july-88498">this weekend</a>, but every year, NPR's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-03/reading-declaration-independence-aloud-88697">Morning Edition reads it aloud</a> on-air on the Fourth of July. It's slow and steady and <em>serious</em>, and takes about 9 minutes.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Mary Hollis Inboden is having her day in the sun</strong></span></span>; the Southern-born actress is currently starring in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-27/daily-rehearsal-5-lesbians-eating-quiche-88391"><em>5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche</em></a>, and though her <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/unscripted-blog/213085/spot-chicago-actors-on-the-chicago-code">role at Jennifer Beals' assistant</a> on <em>The Chicago Code</em> ended with the shows cancellation, she's moved over to the Kelsey Grammer helmed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/ct-mov-0701-chicago-closeup-20110702,0,4360930.column"><em>Boss</em></a>. She's part of a grand tradition of Chicago actors on the show, which has tried to be anti-<em>The Good Wife</em> and shoot locally.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/joffrey-ballet-planning-lock-out-dancers-88702">Labor disputes</a> between Joffrey dancers and the company continue</strong></span></span>; after news broke of a lockout this weekend, union organizers are now arguing that it's just an attempt to gain publicity and pressure the dancers into bending to their will. Let's hope this all ends peacefully, folks.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-05/daily-rehearsal-boss-casts-locally-88731 Love is in the air and so is dance http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/love-air-and-so-dance-82162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/ballet dancer.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Valentine&rsquo;s Day is just around the corner.&nbsp;So is spring.&nbsp;That means LOVE is in the air! That&rsquo;s especially true for two local dance companies.<a target="_blank" href="http://www.rivernorthchicago.com/"> River North Dance Chicago</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.joffrey.com/">The Joffrey Ballet</a> are celebrating the loving season with romantic moves &ndash; from the tango to the waltz. River North Dance Chicago performs &ldquo;Al Sur Del Sur&rdquo; today through Sunday at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/">Harris Theater in Chicago</a>.<br /><br />The Joffrey Ballet kicks off its week and a half run of &ldquo;The Merry Widow&rdquo; Wednesday at the <a target="_blank" href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/">Auditorium Theatre</a>. WBEZ dance critic Lucia Mauro got caught up in the sensual swirl:<br /><br /> It just doesn&rsquo;t get more seductive than the tango. This intricate partnering dance that originated in the barrios of Buenos Aires truly embodies a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Yet various tango spectacles that breeze through town tend to favor flashy moves, macho posturing and a chronological timeline of the dance&rsquo;s history. Not so for River North Dance Chicago, a local troupe that masterfully combines ballet, jazz, contemporary and social dace.<br /><br /><span>For the company&rsquo;s annual Valentine&rsquo;s engagement at the Harris Theater, artistic director Frank Chaves commissioned a suite of tangos by Argentinean tango superstars Sabrina and Ruben Veliz. The six-part dance, titled Al Sur Del Sur, tells the story of five couples and their tender and tumultuous relationships. The choreographers use movement as a vehicle to express these conflicting emotions. So the piece, as a whole, has a more believable and authentic feel than mere displays of showy kicks and spins.<br /><br /></span><span>At its core, the tango is shaped like a spiral that requires partners to navigate the push and pull of attraction. In one part of Al Sur Del Sur, an unbridled romantic duet blends the dance&rsquo;s characteristic slicing and dicing of the legs with more open lifts. This section segues into a tempestuous quartet. It brilliantly reveals sexual tension, jealousy and flirtatiousness through a sharp turn of the head, eyes locking in a freeze-frame flash of lust, aggressive dips, and a firm grabbing of a stiletto heel. There&rsquo;s even a loving duet for two women, who dance barefoot, and seem to be consoling each other. The piece culminates in a seemingly improvised milonga, or tango club setting, where all these characters come to escape from their daily problems.</span><br /><br /><span>The Joffrey Ballet&rsquo;s staging of The Merry Widow takes the waltz as its movement motif. But it&rsquo;s no less steamy. This Chicago premiere is a full-length staging by British choreographer Ronald Hynd of the ballet version of Franz Lehar&rsquo;s classic operetta. Originally created in 1975 for the Australian Ballet, The Merry Widow uses a lush and uncluttered musical adaptation of the Lehar score by John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott. The music&rsquo;s melodic expressiveness and the dance&rsquo;s conversational elegance clearly tell this beloved story set in a fictitious French principality at the turn of the century. There&rsquo;s also a famous can-can dance sequence and lots of fancy hats, epaulets and tight waistcoats.</span> Hanna, a poor-girl-turned-wealthy-heiress is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once rejected her: Count Danilo, now trying to save his country from bankruptcy. <br /><br />Complications naturally ensue. In addition, a scandalous subplot involves a clerk named Camille who is having an affair with a feisty young woman, Valencienne, who is married to an old baron. In one of the ballet&rsquo;s lustier scenes, Valencienne enters the busy Camille&rsquo;s office and teases him by snatching away the various pieces of paper he&rsquo;s reading. Unable to concentrate, Camille sweeps up his lover and drags her across his desk. The duet that follows vacillates between the coy and the uncontained as the woman trots like a horse while Camille kisses her hand, or resists his advances. In the end, the pair falls into each other&rsquo;s arms with abandon&hellip;only to be observed by a hidden spy.<br /><br />Both River North Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet stoke the flames of passion through timeless stories and provocative movement. A perfect way to celebrate Valentine&rsquo;s Day.</p><p><em>DJ M. Sylvia Music Button: Jesse Rose, &quot;You Know It&quot;, Welcome to the Future 2010 (ID&amp;T)</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 15:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/love-air-and-so-dance-82162