Joffrey Ballet

Chicago Theater Week (#CTW18) is a balm for the artsy Chicagoans come February, when we’re more than fed up with Winter’s deep freezes and mini-thaws.

One of the stand-out offerings is the Joffrey Ballet’s Modern Masters series because for one ticket you get to see a few distinct performances by choreographers that are–well, modern masters. The running time is a little over two hours with two short intermissions. The performances this time were: The Four Temperaments, Body of Your Dreams, Beyond the Shore, & Glass Pieces.

The Four Temperaments leaned more classical but it was fresh in a way. Because of the title of the piece I thought it was going to be a more narrative style and maybe it truly was, but for the life of me I couldn’t pick up on the change in temperaments. Mental exercise aside, it was a nice performance.

Body of Your Dreams was the most thrilling for me. It made me feel uncertain what all the performance would explore and the uncertainty was exhilarating in its own way. The first time I felt that way about a ballet was while watching Alexander Ekman’s Joy/Episode 47. The performance music is an auto-tuning of what sounds like a Good Morning America segment about a fitness gadget. Dancers move about in way that is half dancing and half Richard Simmons/Jane Fonda Moves. There was a refreshing freedom of movement; pas de duex (not true duets as the stage was full) with two women and two men. It’s billed as, “A madcap play on fitness crazes, this inventive piece brings wit and whimsy to our obsession with physical perfection.” It’s the kind of thing you’ll want to see more than once.

Beyond the Shore was an audio-visual trance in a very good way. The music was done by Mason Bates and it has an orchestral and electronic soundscape. The stage styling uses color shades and lights that at once make you feel your on the ocean floor, and at another in some familiarly futuristic scene from Black Mirror. It’s affecting and moving and exactly what makes it that way is elusive.

Glass Pieces alternated between the bright bustle of a city intersection on a Monday morning — people buzzing by eachother to get on with their day– to the shadowy staccato of some dystopian world that reminded me of the film Brazil. The incomparable sound of Phillip Glass engulfs you. It connotates Glass’ work on films like Candyman (1992) and Koyaanisqatsi (1982), it’s chilling and maybe unlike those films…it’s stood the test of time.

Joffrey Ballet Modern Masters
Body of Your Dreams Choreographer: Myles Thatcher Music: Jacob ter Veldhuis A madcap play on fitness crazes, this inventive piece brings wit and whimsy to our obsession with physical perfection. – Joffrey.org

 

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