Joffrey Ballet opens season with “Romeo & Juliet” – multimedia story ballet as part of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, Oct. 13-23

Christine Rocas (center).  Photo by: Cheryl Mann

The Joffrey Ballet launches its 2016-2017 season with the return of Polish National Ballet Director Krzysztof Pastor’s popular Romeo & Juliet, which mesmerized audiences at its Chicago premiere in spring 2014. Romeo & Juliet is presented in 10 performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, October 13-23, 2016.

A neo-ballet in three acts, this contemporary rendition of Shakespeare’s classic tale uses a multimedia video backdrop to depict three different political eras of the 20th century. Throughout each time period, the timeless tale of love and loss unfolds to the darkly intense score by Sergei Prokofiev performed live by the Chicago Philharmonic under the direction of Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck.

The ballet opens with imagery of Italy in the 1930’s, the time of Mussolini and the rise of Fascism. The Capulet family represents the upper class conservatives with stiff, militaristic movement, while the Montagues represent the liberal low and middle classes, danced with loose, flowing motions laced with pedestrian naturalism. The second act shifts to the 1950’s, the rise of the Red Brigade and increased political terrorism, a fitting scene for the tensions blocking Romeo and Juliet’s passionate romance. The third act, closer to the 1990’s during Berlusconi’s leadership and increasing social divisions, escalates the conflict toward the story’s tragic conclusion.

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Pastor’s counterpoint of the star-crossed lovers and real world politics heightens the universal plight – applicable to lovers from any conflicting background, political, ethnic, religious or otherwise – and amplifies the metaphor of a group sacrificing its individuals for the sake of divisive politics. Bravura dancing, touching lyricism and epic storytelling unite in this rendering of ill-fated true love.

“The story of Romeo & Juliet lives because the events portrayed recur in every decade, in every culture, wherever ideology is in opposition to love,” added Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “As we celebrate Shakespeare’s 400 -year legacy, it’s also important to explore how we tell this timeless tale for our age. If we want our audience to inhabit this world, then a contemporary setting such as Pastor’s 20th century Romeo & Juliet, which draws parallels to current events, is needed to form that link. In our current age of complexity, there has never been a more important moment for dance to express our human condition; we’re thrilled to begin our season with this groundbreaking work.”

Romeo & Juliet is presented as part of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong international arts festival in 2016 celebrating the vibrancy, relevance and reach of Shakespeare as the world commemorates the four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616. The festival unites 1,000 local and international artists spanning theater, opera, music, dance and cuisine to celebrate, interpret and reimagine the playwright’s work. Shakespeare 400 Chicago will engage more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors to Chicago through 850 events, making this quadricentennial celebration the world’s largest and most comprehensive celebration of Shakespeare’s enduring legacy.

Tickets and Schedule

The Joffrey Ballet performs Romeo & Juliet October 13–23, 2016; the full performance schedule is as follows: Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:30pm, Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30pm, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 2:00pm, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30pm, Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2:00pm, Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7:30pm, Friday, Oct. 21 at 7:30pm, Saturday, Oct. 22 at 2:00pm, Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7:30pm, Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2:00pm.

Single tickets range from $34-$174 and are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, by telephone 312.386.8905, or online at Joffrey.org.

About The Joffrey Ballet

Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.

The company’s commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement programs and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.

Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.

The Joffrey Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Live Music Sponsors The Marina and Arnold Tatar Fund for Live Music and Cheryle and Joel V. Williamson as well as Romeo & Juliet Corporate Sponsor Wells Fargo. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Special thanks to Co-Sponsors of the 2016-2017 Season: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, NIB Foundation, and Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation; Season Partners: pamella roland and Fox Ford Lincoln, ConAgra Foods, Clear Channel Airports, Official Provider of Physical Therapy Athletico; Official Hotel JW Marriott; and Official Health Club Chicago Athletic Clubs.

For more information on Krzysztof Pastor, visit here, and for more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, visit joffrey.org.

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