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Friday, 09 February 2018 17:51

Review: Joffrey Ballet's "Modern Masters"

As the era of streaming entertainment and sweatpants-clad binge watching continues, you have to applaud those who attend the performing arts. It’s certainly not an easier medium to consume, but some would argue it’s much more rewarding. Unfortunately, ballet and opera are struggling to attract a millennial audience. 

The Joffrey Ballet, however, opened its Modern Masters to no lack of enthusiasm. The massive Auditorium Theater was packed with audiences of all ages. Modern Masters is a four-piece show featuring the works of four different choreographers including the popular George Balanchine. Modern Masters is presented as part of the Ashley Anniversary, celebrating Ashley Wheater’s 10th season as artistic director of the Joffrey. 

They begin with Balanchine’s ‘Four Temperaments’, a visual take on the ancient belief that the body is influenced by four humors. This piece is the most traditional and lengthy of the four. The costumes and staging are sparse. Music by Paul Hindemith is soft but stirring. 

After a brief intermission, they return with Myles Thatcher’s ‘Body of Your Dreams’. The energy picks up here. With colorful 80s-flavored workout inspired costumes, 'Body of Your Dreams' is a cheeky take on fitness. It's a little ironic for a stage full of perfectly sculpted dancers to slightly criticize the "perfect body" obsession. The steps are fun, and the music is catchy. 

Next is the world premiere of Nicolas Blanc's multi-part piece 'Beyond the Shore'. This one is more similar in style to Balanchine's. The staging is as sparse, but the choreography is visually stunning. Music by Mason Bates is intricate with a cinematic scope. Think John Williams. 

The final piece is the Chicago premiere of 'Glass Pieces' by legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins. This is the piece to come for. Ballet fans of Chicago have been waiting for this one. It's well worth the hype. The set and costumes are striking. Philip Glass' music really shines in this meticulously choreographed number. The dance begins chaotic and busy but comes full circle to inspire the movement of a busy city. Bright and thrilling, 'Glass Pieces' is the strongest of the four. 

Modern Masters is a perfect evening for those looking to touch their toe into the waters of modern dance. Tread without fear of boredom for this highly engrossing show. Joffrey has a great way of being accessible to all audiences despite familiarity with the art of dance. 

Through February 18th at Joffrey Ballet. 50 E Congress Parkway. 312-386-8905

 

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