Billed as an antidote to life’s many uncertainties, The Joffrey Ballet delivers three works in one: a 20th-century classic, a returning favorite and an astonishing world premiere. The Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Pkwy) has become the center of the Chicago dance world as a result. “Global Visionaries” is a 21st century head-turner and modern day ballet game-changer.
On April 26, the opening night of the performances, the audience was greeted by “Global Visionaries” art director, Ashley Wheater, who thanked audiences for their attendance and support.
The night continued with the first piece, titled “The Miraculous Mandarin.” This piece was choreographed special for The Joffrey Ballet by San Francisco Ballet Resident Choreographer Yuri Possokhov. It made its debut in Chicago in March 2016.
“The Miraculous Mandarin” centers around a girl forced to act as a decoy by three “thugs” in order to lure a wealthy Mandarin man to his tragic fate. The piece was accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic and effectively captured the essence of the depth and darkness of desires that can engulf women and men alike.
The next portion of the performance was a huge hit with the audience. It was originally titled “Episode 47,” but it was changed right before the opening night performance to “Joy.” Through the piece, Ekman explores the question: “How can we express joy through our movements?”
This question was answered through movements that brought pure “joy” to the dancers. Their improvisational motions showcased the dancers’ individual emotions and personalities. With several of the dancers jumping around or skipping across the stage, “Joy” filled the air with a sense of happiness and pure excitement. The piece started off with 20 dancers on stage, all doing their own motions, then continued on with several pieces involving duets, solos or a group of dancers.
The night closed with a piece by dancer-turned-choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa called “Mammatus.” This 20-minute piece was performed by 20 dancers who depicted different birds and insects. Ochoa is known for her fierce improvisation, and this became evident in “Mammatus.” Although the stage set-up was minimal, the sharpness and energy portrayed by the dancers left many in awe.
The Joffrey Ballet’s performance of “Global Visionaries” is a one-of-a-kind experience. Seldom has sporadic movement seemed so natural. “Global Visionaries” successfully created three different and strong pieces of choreography. The opportunities given to the dancers and choreographers to showcase their talent all over the world translated to great passion on the stage.