The beauty of motion, the joy of dance, the shapes and choreographed patterns expressed through the human body all come together during the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago’s fall program, “All Stars,” at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
The most stunning work of the program is Christopher Wheeldon‘s 2005 “After the Rain,” a Joffrey premiere, danced to haunting music by Estonian composer Arvo Part. It begins with a backdrop reminiscent of a gigantic Mark Rothko painting, half gray and half black, as if the windows of the world are covered with rain. Three couples dance in pairs, smoothly, fluidly, as the music suggests showers and the shimmering puddles that punctuate a sidewalk after the rain.
The movements are sometimes startling, odd, but never awkward or forced. There is actually an aspirational quality in the first part of the piece, a reaching for something. From the pit, the orchestra provides thunder.
Everything changes, however, as the backdrop moves from dark to a burnt orange. A couple, Victoria Jaiani in a tiny pink leotard with her hair flowing, Fabrice Calmels bare chested wearing pale blue sweat pants, appear on stage and proceed to dance the story of their relationship. At times the honesty is painful to watch. By turns together and apart, tangled yet never fully joined, they dance through a shared life with all its contradictions and complications.
The delicate music for their lengthy pairing is played by violinists Paul Zafer and Carol Lahti, members of the Chicago Sinfonietta, who take a bow onstage.
After Wheeldon’s soul-stirring number comes the Joffrey premiere of Jerome Robbins’ 1956 comic ballet, “The Concert.” A solitary pianist, Paul James Lewis, sits at a grand piano playing Chopin. His music begins to draw an assortment of audience members whose reactions to the music and each other provide plenty of laughs.
The program opens with two works by George Balanchine, his 1972 ballet “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” and 1964’s “Tarantella.”
“All Stars” runs through Sun., Oct. 24. For information, visit www.joffrey.org or call 312-739-0120.