The production of Sylvia by the Joffrey Ballet at Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Pkwy.) brought on this change. It wasn’t boring or uneventful. It was elegant and classy. Sylvia was, hands down, one of the most beautiful artistic pieces I have ever experienced — it was like watching angels float across the stage performing moves I could only dream of doing.
This revival of the 1876 romantic ballet into a more modern fairytale, choreographed by John Neumeier, revolves around the coming-of-age of a young woman-nymph named Sylvia (April Daly) who struggles to learn how to be comfortable in her own skin. She is trying to figure out how vulnerable she should allow herself to be, how much strength she should portray, and whether or not she can take control of her own sexuality. Throughout her discovery of womanhood she meets the God of Love disguised as both Thyrsis and Orion (Temur Suluashvili), Aminta, a shepherd (Yoshihisa Arai), Diana, a nymph huntress (Victoria Jaiani) and Endymion, Diana’s love interest (Fabrice Calmels).
The performance opened with a group of nymph huntresses introducing Sylvia on a stage set with silhouettes of trees along the walls. The subsequent solos introduced how each of the main characters is connected to her. With each dance, I saw Sylvia question her surroundings and slowly come into her own when she formed an intimate and tender connection to Aminta. However, still a girl, Sylvia maintained her naivety when she allowed Orion to take advantage of her.
Sylvia’s full transformation from girl to woman began in the second half after intermission. The curtain was raised and an all-white backdrop came into view. It was simplistic and symbolized her purity. To say I was enthralled with what I saw would be an understatement. The way Sylvia allowed herself to embrace her sexuality with Orion, even though she knew their relationship was based on lust alone, captivated the audience through precision and elegance. At the end of their duet, she realized she wanted more and left Orion to return to the woods in search for an intimate connection with Aminta. Her sincerity made me believe that love is real. The grace and conviction in her movements showed she was no longer an innocent young girl but a strong and fierce woman wanting to create a life of her own.
Sylvia produced a show that most audience members, especially young adults, would find relatable because it’s about finding one’s place in the world. I was able to understand the struggles Sylvia was experiencing and how her mistakes taught her what to do next and move forward. The fight to gain self-confidence is a lesson most people, at one point or another, are able to identify with. The standing ovation at the end of the show was no doubt a testament to how beautifully it was choreographed and how elegantly it was executed.
Sylvia runs through Oct. 25 at Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Pkwy.). Tickets range from $24 to $83 and can be purchased here.