Joffrey Celebrates 20 Years

September 13, 2014


Christine Rocas and Miguel Blanco in
RAkU. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.



This season the Joffrey Ballet is celebrating 20 years since its move to Chicago. And that’s something to celebrate because the company almost went under after Robert Joffrey died in 1988. (If you need to brush up on that history, check out the excellent documentary Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance).

Happily, this legendary company pulled through, and now, with their upcoming program “Stories in Motion,” we are reminded of how special this adventurous group is. On the bill are not only two classic 20th-century story ballets—Balanchine’s Prodigal Son and Tudor’s Lilac Garden—but also a new and intriguing one: RAkU, by San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer Yuri Possokhov. What a great choice for a contemporary ballet! Instead of choosing a Wheeldon or Ratmansky ballet that are, let’s face it, flooding repertoires across the U.S. and Europe, Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater has asked the under-hyped Possokhov for his 2011 ballet based on a love story surrounding the burning down of a temple in Kyoto. The spare, haiku-like music has been written for the ballet by SFB musician Shinji Eshima. Luckily the Joffrey’s exquisite Victoria Jaiani is back from having a baby in April, and is one of the dancers cast in Yuan Yuan Tan’s role of the empress.

September 18 to 21 at Auditorium Theatre. For more info—and to watch Jaiani in rehearsal—click here.