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Dance Wed Oct 14 2015

Joffrey Presents a new Twist on an Old Ballet with Sylvia

Hamburg Ballet
Photo by Holger Badekow.

The Joffrey Ballet unveils the U.S. premiere of John Neumeier's Sylvia, a new twist on a ballet that originally premiered in 1876. The production opens tonight at the Auditorium Theatre.

The female-powered ballet was groundbreaking for its time, portraying strong female characters and sparking a new interest in ballet.

Sylvia tells the mythological story of a young woman attempting and finding difficulty in striking a balance between strength and vulnerability as she transitions into womanhood. She vacillates between acting tenderly and acting aggressively, and finds true love upon awakening her sensuality--not themes normally explored when the ballet first premiered.

Neumeier presents a new take on Sylvia, which marks the first full-length production for Joffrey's 60th season. "He calls it a Chicago version, in a way," said Joffrey dancer of 13 years, Victoria Jaiani, who dances the role of Diana in the production. "It feels really new and fresh."

Set to music by Léo Delibes, which Jaiani called stunning, Sylvia centers around Sylvia, mythological Diana's nymph, and her relationship with a shepherd named Aminta.

Jaiani said that although the content is mythical in nature, it feels current and relatable. It is told through a contemporary language and isn't set in any particular time.

"This is an incredibly rare and special time for the Joffrey Ballet and American audiences to explore the unique choreographic language of John Neumeier," said Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater in a statement. "John understands dance as a living art form, frequently updating his work in a way that resonates with contemporary audiences."'

Choreographer Neumeier is from Milwaukee, but now works as the director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet. It is his first time working with the Joffrey Ballet. Additionally, he is also the first choreographer to create a modern version of Sylvia.

"John is encouraging each of us to really dig deep and bring ourselves into the role and be as honest with it as we can," said Jaiani. "I hope the audience can really relate to what we're trying to say."

Sylvia runs tonight through Sunday, Oct. 25, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Tickets are $32 to $155 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-982-2787. For a full schedule of performance times, visit joffrey.org.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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