Dance

The Joffrey Ballet closes its 2016-2017 Season with Global Visionaries featuring works of international ballet visionaries: Russian born choreographer Yuri Possokhov with The Miraculous Mandarin, Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman with Joy, and Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa with Mammatus.

The show opens with sexy, dark The Miraculous Mandarin. It’s a disturbing tale of a girl forced to act as a decoy by thugs, luring men into her room, only to be robbed and kicked out. The girl (immensely talented dancer Victoria Jaiani who moves with otherworldly grace and can possibly express just about any emotion with her body or even a subtle turn of the head) seduces men with her beauty, and then turns them over to her “friends” who finish the job. The wealthy mandarin (wonderfully performed by Yoshihisa Arai) is her last victim. He is cool and composed, like a Kung Fu master, but falls hard for the girl, and refuses to let go of her even when her deceitful nature is reveled to him. There’s nothing abstract about this performance: there’s an engaging plot, and all seven characters are extremely well developed; the brutality of the Chinese man’s murder is quite uncomfortable. Set to Bela Bartok’s score composed in 1918-1919, this “pantomime grotesque” was based on a magazine story of that time. Premiered November 27, 1926 in Cologne, Germany, it caused a scandal and was subsequently banned on moral grounds. Yuri Possokhov has created this work specifically for The Joffrey Ballet in collaboration with Cleveland Orchestra, which premiered in March 2016 in Cleveland. This is the Chicago premiere with Chicago’s own Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck providing live accompaniment on stage.

Here comes Joy! Alexander Ekman’s piece is original and playful, its delightful silliness reminiscent of a circus show. It opens with the stage brightly lit and slippery, crowded with dancers acting like happy children on a playground: they run and slide around, walk upside down, dance and act out while wearing suits. When prompted, everyone strips down to flesh colored underwear and things get even less serious. There’s a pack of gorgeous female ballerinas dropping their shoes on the floor in unison, like some bratty toddlers. They are childish and gracefully feminine, all at the same time. A very young audience member sitting next to me (she was around four-years-old) found the sketch very entertaining: she laughed the entire time. Joy is a ballet/ mixed media of sorts, with voice narration and the dancers having speaking parts. It’s unexpected, whimsical and energetic; a pure joy. Set to a mix of modern music featuring selections from Grammy-nominated Brad Meldau Trio, experimental rock band Django Django, Tiga’s pop hit Shoes, and Moby.

The final part of the event, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa‘s Mammatus, is a stimulating twenty-minute abstract piece featuring twenty dancers in a series of ensembles and duets. Right away, there’s a thunder on the stage, then the music begins ("Weather One" by composer Michael Gordon). The music is sharp and urgent, the frantic forceful strings giving it that old world quality. The costumes (designed by Dieuweke Van Reij) are stylishly black, enveloping dancers’ hands and making them look animal or bird-like. The dancers’ movements are precise and fast, there isn’t much emotion here, just breathtaking fluidity of ever changing shapes and positions. Towards the end, a dance pair clad in all white comes in; their dance is sensual and full of grace. Is it possible that the contrast between the colors and the styles of dancers allude to the duality of our reality: the good and evil, the light and darkness, the emotion and thought?

Joffrey’s Global Visionaries is being performed at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University: April 26-May 7, 2017. For more show information, or to purchase tickets, click here.  

 

Published in Dance in Review

Continuing its 125th Anniversary celebration, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University adds two, one-night-only performances to its momentous season. On Friday, April 10, 2015,An Evening with the Roosevelts” celebrates Roosevelt University’s 70th Anniversary. The star-studded evening features Ed Asner performing his one-man show, “FDR” as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Loretta Swit performing her one-woman show, “Eleanor” as Eleanor Roosevelt. The excitement continues on Sunday, May 31 when Grammy and Academy Award®-winning musician A.R. Rahman makes his Auditorium debut as part of a multi-city North American Tour. “JBL PresentsA.R Rahman: The Intimate Concert Tourfeatures a range of material from his illustrious career spanning two decades.

“The momentum of our spectacular 125th Anniversary Season is not slowing down as we bring new and diverse performances to our historic landmark stage,” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. “We are delighted to help celebrate Roosevelt University’s 70th Anniversary with the special performance of “An Evening with the Roosevelts” starring the incomparable Ed Asner and Loretta Swit. We are equally excited to welcome the internationally renowned talent of A.R. Rahman to our stage. His list of musical accomplishments is unmatched in modern music and his live shows always leave his fans breathless.”

“An Evening with the Roosevelts”

 

Founded in 1945, Roosevelt University will celebrate its 70th Anniversary with a special performance and gala dinner on April 10. “An Evening with the Roosevelts” features two, one-act performances by stars Ed Asner, who portrays Franklin Roosevelt and Loretta Swit taking on the persona of Eleanor Roosevelt. Asner, recognized for many roles, including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Lou Grant,” “Elf” and “The Good Wife,” depicts the former president’s achievements that propelled the country through difficult times in World War II and The Great Depression. Asner’s emotional performance also touches upon Roosevelt’s struggles with his declining health and polio. Swit, who starred as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on the TV show “M*A*S*H,” spotlights the difficulties that Eleanor Roosevelt experienced in her marriage, as well as her accomplishments as a human rights advocate and First Lady. 

Helping to raise funds for student scholarships, the star-studded evening will also feature a special dinner prior to the performance where Roosevelt President Chuck Middleton and FDR’s granddaughters, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and Nina Roosevelt Gibson (Honorary Chairs of the evening) will be in attendance. Gala dinner Co-Chairs include Roosevelt Trustee Marsha Goldstein (My Kind of Town) and Michael Goldstein; Roosevelt Trustee George Lofton (Lofton & Associate, LLC) and Felecia Lofton; Roosevelt Trustee Alvin Dinwiddie (Loop Capital Markets) and Helen Ashford; and Roosevelt Trustee and Alum Al Golin (Golin Communications) and Alumna June Golin.

Corporate sponsors of “An Evening with the Roosevelts” are Mesirow Financial and McDonalds. For sponsorship opportunities and dinner information please contact Lauren Chill at (312) 341-3849 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Program Schedule and Ticket Information

 

“An Evening with the Roosevelts”

 

Friday, April 10, 2015 | 7:30 p.m.

Performance tickets ($25 – $65) are available online at AuditoriumTheatre.org, by calling (800) 982-ARTS (2787) or in-person at Auditorium Theatre’s Box Office (50 E. Congress Pkwy). Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available at (312) 341-2357 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tickets are free for Roosevelt University students by visiting the theatre at 50 E Congress Pkwy through March 27. Two per valid RU Student ID.

Dinner and performance tickets ($250 single tickets, $5,000 table of 8) are available by contacting Lauren Chill at (312) 341-3849 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Theatre Reviews

A one-time performance by the touring Argentinian group, "Tango Buenos Aires" was as invigorating as it was eloquently graceful! Presented in the stunning, historical Auditorium Theater in Chicago's downtown, the theatre interior rivaled the beauty of the dancers. Built in 1889, and acquired by Roosevelt University some years ago, the theatre hosts a wide array of traveling shows from all over the world. Exquisitely gilded and brilliantly lit, the theatre holds over three thousand in its audience and commands a high standing among Chicago's illustrious theatres, with First Lady Michelle Obama residing as honorary chair.

The performance itself was rich in tradition as spinning couples traced the floor in group dances which were not only reminiscent of the history of the Spanish tango, but hinted at a worldwide similarity in communal expression through dance. The dances themselves paid homage to that legendary Argentinian lady Eva Peron, featuring the ballad "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," from the musical based on her life, and following her progression from young girl through her singular political career.

Highlighting the evening was a dance performed solely by the men, who became a part of the music through the rhythmic use of the boleador, a slingshot-like tool reminiscent of a lasso. The boleador is a tool traditionally put to use in Argentina to help in rounding up cattle. However in this instance, the men held one in each hand and swung them around quickly in the manner of a jump rope. As the end of the boleador reached the floor, the resultant tapping was masterfully used to create rhythms even as the boleador span around the men in dexterous patterns amazing to behold.

A beautiful event, rich in culture and refreshingly artistic, Tango Buenos Aires is an experience to remember!

Tw@birunjibaby

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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