What a surprise! When I entered the magnificent Auditorium Theatre for the Joffrey Ballet’s performance…
THE JOFFREY BALLET PRESENTS U.S. PREMIERE OF JOHN NEUMEIER’S “SYLVIA” Oct. 14 – 25
For its annual fall engagement, The Joffrey Ballet presents the U.S. Premiere of the full-length, female-powered story ballet, Sylvia, choreographed by Milwaukee native andinternationally acclaimed Director/Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier. Continuing Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater’s endeavor to bring re-imagined story-ballets to Chicago audiences, this program represents the first time Neumeier has been invited to The Joffrey Ballet and marks the first full-length production of Joffrey’s 2015-2016 60th anniversary season. Sylvia is presented at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, in ten performances only, October 14 – 25.
“This is an incredibly rare and special time for The Joffrey Ballet and American audiences to explore the unique choreographic language of John Neumeier,” noted Wheater. “John understands dance as a living art form, frequently updating his work in a way that resonates with contemporary audiences. In his words, ‘We are trying to make this text mean something to us today.’ The story of Sylvia is hundreds of years old, yet this production captures the humanity shared by all generations. In essence, this is a love story about an ambitious young woman and a humble man, just beyond each other’s reach. Sylvia brilliantly combines story, dance, music and visual art: a modern, though timeless, parable.”
First premiering in 1876 at the Paris Opera, Neumeier is the first choreographer to realize a modern version of Sylvia, which presents a young woman at the crossroads of adolescence and womanhood torn between strength and vulnerability, succeeding in finding true love only with the awakening of her own sensuality. Set to one of the best ballet scores in history by Léo Delibes, Sylvia sparked a renewed worldwide interest in ballet and represents an important shift in the image of women through its inclusion of strong, female leads. It was the first ballet of its kind to break from Romantic ballet conventions.
A ballet in two parts, Sylvia opens as the god of Love descends into the wood and takes on the appearance of Thyrsis, a mere shepherd. Aminta, a real shepherd, enters the sacred wood, secretly hoping to find Sylvia, Diana’s nymph. Diana and the nymph-huntresses appear in the woods to take a rest from hunting and to bathe. Sylvia and Aminta meet. Diana and the huntresses discover the tender exchanges between the shepherd and the nymph. Taken by surprise, Sylvia betrays Aminta. Left alone, Diana remembers handsome Endymion, doomed to eternal sleep. At daybreak, the shepherds, their curiosity fired, enter the sacred wood and find Endymion asleep. Love/Thyrsis is with them. Aminta’s heart is broken. He is obsessed by the vision of Sylvia.
Love feels sorry for Aminta. But he takes on the form of handsome Orion in order to seduce Sylvia. She lets herself be led on by him.
As Part II opens, Sylvia becomes aware of her femininity. She discovers pleasure. Her sensuality aflame, Sylvia is overwhelmed by the memory of Diana and Aminta. Many years later, Aminta returns to the sacred wood. Sylvia too returns to the sacred wood. They meet. Their love seems to live again for an instant. Diana observes them. She is tempted to separate them but Love disarms her. In the end it is life itself that steals Sylvia away from Aminta. As for Diana, she remains alone, the eternal huntress.
Tickets and Schedule
The Joffrey Ballet performs John Neumeier’s Sylvia Wednesday, October 14 through Sunday, October 25, 2015. The full performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 17 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 pm; Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 24 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 25 at 2 pm.
Single tickets 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, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at ticketmaster.com.
About the Choreographer
John Neumeier is the Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet in Germany and one of the most sought after choreographers in ballet today. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Neumeier began his ballet training in Chicago and Milwaukee, including Marquette University, before furthering his career in Copenhagen and The Royal Ballet School in London. In 1963, Neumeier joined the Stuttgart Ballet where he progressed to soloist and continued his choreographic development before becoming Director of the Ballet Frankfurt in 1969, where he created critically acclaimed interpretations of The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. In 1973 Neumeier joined The Hamburg Ballet, which became one of the leading ballet companies on the German dance scene and soon received international recognition under his direction. As a choreographer, Neumeier has continually focused on the preservation of ballet tradition, while giving his works a modern dramatic framework and has served as guest choreographer to The Royal Ballet; The Vienna, Munich and Dresden State Operas; The Stuttgart Ballet; The Royal Danish Ballet; The Ballet of the Paris Opera; The Tokyo Ballet; American Ballet Theatre; The National Ballet of Canada; The Ballet of the Mariinsky Theater; Moscow Bolshoi and Stanislavsky Ballet; and San Francisco Ballet, among many others. His latest creations for The Hamburg Ballet include Christmas Oratorio I-VI in 2013, Tatiana in 2014 and Per Gynt in 2015.
About The Joffrey Ballet
This year, The Joffrey Ballet celebrates its 60th company anniversary. 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. To learn more, visit Joffrey.org.
The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2015-2016 Season Sponsors and Partners and would like to acknowledge the generous support of Sylvia Production Sponsors Susan and Richard Kiphart and Audre M. Carlin, Sponsors of the 2015-2016 Season: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, NIB Foundation and Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation; Season Partners: pamella roland and Fox Ford Lincoln, Official Provider of Physical Therapy, Athletico; Official Hotel, JW Marriott; and Official Health Club, Chicago Athletic Clubs.
For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, please visit joffrey.org.