The Joffrey Ballet Presents CONTEMPORARY CHOREOGRAPHERS, 2/12-2/23

January 13, 2014
Broadway World
Dance News Desk


This winter, The Joffrey Ballet revisits its contemporary roots with a mixed repertory program titled "Contemporary Choreographers," an evening of three pieces, two by some of contemporary ballet's most luminous choreographers working today and one by a local "rising star" choreographer. "Contemporary Choreographers" is presented in 10 performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, February 12-23.

Named for the well-known Chicago street, local dance-maker Brock Clawson's Crossing Ashland, created for Milwaukee Ballet in 2012 and now a Chicago and Joffrey Premiere, is a metaphor for facing change within ourselves. With movement that intertwines routine pedestrian movement with the virtuosity of ballet, Clawson explores vulnerability and the need for connection with music by John Adams, Michelle McLaughlin, Martin Tillman, M83 and Jeremy Limb.

Also on the program is the Joffrey Premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's 2002 work Continuum, set to the modernist piano music of Gyorgy Ligeti and utilizing a contemplative pace to render music into pure movement. Both the music and the movement are abstract, but Continuum demonstrates Wheeldon's ability to create mathematical, neoclassical elegance. The dancers execute movement that is geometric, clean, sparse and completely controlled as they melt into the music. The progression of solos, duets and ensembles dazzle with their inventiveness as Wheeldon continually breaks ballet rules while creating new realities. The dancers' movements are naturally driven and his dancers move from deep within, creating a sense, simultaneously wistful and profound, that one is leaving an old world and entering a new one.

Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman's Episode 31 completes the bill, which Chicago audiences got a first look at during its Chicago Premiere in the Chicago Dancing Festival 2013. A work of urgent, explosive rhythm, Episode 31 opens with a solitary, enigmatic figure slowly circling the stage. Soon, the stage is deconstructed - literally - by an ensemble of frenetic black-and-white-clad dancers before they settle into a more serene scene where a duet is danced to the reading of "Color," a poem by Christina RossettiEpisode 31 is set to music by Mikael Karlsson, Ane Brun and Erik Satie.

"Though the Joffrey often presents choreography from both the 19th and 20th centuries, our winter program is a child of the new millennium," noted Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "In just over a decade, we have witnessed the creation of some truly pioneering work. The Joffrey is pleased to introduce three ground-breaking dances, from three very talented choreographers...perhaps a glimpse of the future."

Tickets and Schedule

Single tickets, priced between $31 and $152, are available now 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

"Contemporary Choreographers" opens Wednesday, February 12 and runs through Sunday, February 23. The complete performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 pm; Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 pm.

About the Choreographers

Brock Clawson is an award-winning Chicago-based choreographer. After a successful career as a dancer for various Chicago companies, Clawson's choreographic career developed during his time as a dancer and as the Artistic Associate for Thodos Dance Chicago. Clawson's first work for Thodos Dance Chicago in 2005 marked the beginning of a series of four works over the next five years with this company and the establishment of Clawson as a distinguished choreographer. Since then he has also worked with such companies as Milwaukee Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, Dance Kaleidoscope, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and The Dance Center of Columbia College. In recognition of his works, Clawson received the Dance Chicago 2005 Outstanding Choreography Award and the Cliff Dwellers Arts Organization's 2006 Choreographer of the Year Award. For more information, visit

Alexander Ekman is known for his fast-paced timing, witty humor and clever transitions. Ekman danced with Royal Swedish Ballet, Cullberg Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater 2. In the annual Choreography Workshop "Switch," he attracted attention for his individual style and in 2006 he decided to devote himself completely to choreography. Now Ekman is a highly in-demand choreographer internationally. He has already made many ballets for companies like the Cullberg Ballet, Compañia Nacional de Danza Goteborg Ballet, The Iceland Dance Company, Bern Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Dance, Ballet de l'Opéra du Rhin, Royal Swedish Ballet and The Norwegian National Ballet. He has also created work for festivals like "Europa Danse" in France and for the Athens International Dance Festival. For Nederlands Dans Theater 2 he made FLOCKWORK in 2006, one year laterLAB 15 (Nederlands Dans Theater 1) and Cacti in 2010 (Nederlands Dans Theater 2). In his work as a choreographer, Ekman has proven himself artistically multitalented, often creating video productions, some that accompany his stage works and others that are stand-alone pieces. Ekman also created a museum installation for the Modern Museum in Stockholm and has served as a teacher/choreographer at the Juilliard School in New York City. For more information, visit

Christopher Wheeldon is among today's most innovative contemporary ballet choreographers. Born in Somerset, England, Wheeldon developed an affinity for music and movement at an early age. At age 11, after studying at the East Coker Ballet School, Wheeldon entered The Royal Ballet School and joined The Royal Ballet company in 1991. In 1993, Wheeldon traveled to New York where he soon accepted a position with New York City Ballet, where he served as Resident Choreographer from 2001 to 2008. Wheeldon has shown his versatility by working in various mediums. He choreographed the ballet sequences in Nicholas Hytner's film Center Stage (2000) and they collaborated again on the Broadway musical The Sweet Smell of Success (2002). Wheeldon made his operatic debut with the "Dance of the Hours" in the Metropolitan Opera House's revival of Amilcare Ponchiellis' La Gianconda (2006). Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company in 2007 with the goal of introducing a new spirit of innovation to classical ballet. He resigned as Artistic Director of Morphoses in February 2010 and continues to work as a freelance choreographer. To learn more, visit

The Joffrey Ballet is Chicago's premier ballet company committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertory encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works of today. 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 Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron. The Joffrey is also committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2013-2014 Season Sponsors and Partners. With special thanks to ContinuumProduction Sponsor, Elizabeth Yntema Ferguson and Mark FergusonCrossing Ashland Production Sponsors, Bill and Orli Staley and the National Endowment for the Arts; Abbott Fund and NIB Foundation, Co-Sponsors of the 2013-2014 Season; Alphawood Foundation Chicago, "Masters of Dance" Sponsor; United Airlines, Official & Exclusive Airline; Vanguard Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago Center for Orthopedics, Official Healthcare Provider; AthletiCo, Official Provider of Physical Therapy; and JW Marriott, Official Hotel.


The three World Premieres of the Joffrey's annual Choreographers of Color Award will be presented in Winning Works at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, in one performance only, Saturday, March 1 at 7 pm. Award winners Justin Allen, Stefanie Batten Bland and Norbert De La Cruz III will each show new work along with a restaging of Le Roi S'Amuse by Joffrey Academy of Dance Co-Director Alexei Kremnev. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and will be available as of January 13 by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312-334-7777 or online at

The Joffrey's "Masters of Dance" season comes to a close with the Company and U.S. Premiere of Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo & Juliet, created in 2008 for the Scottish Ballet. Set in Italy and spanning three eras of the 20th century, the Polish National Ballet Director's modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic has all the drama, power and timeless themes of love and loss in one darkly intense ballet, set against a multi-media backdrop and Sergei Prokofiev's dramatic score. Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo & Juliet runs for 10 performances at the Auditorium Theatre, April 30 - May 11. Tickets, $31-$152, are available now at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office at Joffrey Tower, the Auditorium Theatre Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787 or online at

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs please visit


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